Discuss how all-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles receive electricity from various sources depending on the location where they plug-in to recharge.


  • Computers with Internet connection

What presenters do

What students do

  • Look at the national averages for electricity sources online at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center. Compare the emission pollution and other environmental impacts of each type of electricity source including: coal, gas, nuclear, hydro, wind, biomass, oil, solar and geothermal.
  • Then, investigate the main sources of electricity in your state/area to determine the energy source for a plug-in electric vehicle in your area. Research the state’s primary energy source to learn more about how/where the energy is generated/extracted, its cost, and its environmental impact.

Conclusion/Follow up Questions

  • From what sources is electricity generated in the US? In our state?
  • What is the difference between direct emissions and well-to-wheel emissions?
  • Is there a large emissions benefit to driving an all-electric vehicle in our state? In other states?
  • Extension Activity: Research and discuss the carbon footprint of the life cycle of an electric car. This article by Bjorn Lomborg for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest. It is titled “Green Cars Have a Dirty Little Secret: Producing and charging electric cars means heavy carbon-dioxide emissions."


  • K-ESS2- Earth’s Systems
    • E: Biogeology - Plants and animals can change their environment.
  • K-ESS3- Earth and Human Activity
    • A: Natural Resources: Living things need water, air, and resources from the land, and they live in places that have the things they need. Humans use natural resources for everything they do.
    • C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems - Things that people do to live comfortably can affect the world around them. But they can make choices that reduce their impacts on the land, water, air, and other living things.
  • 5- ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
    • A: Natural Resources – Energy and fuels that humans use are derived from natural resources, and their use affects the environment in multiple ways. Some resources are renewable over time, and others are not.
    • C: Human Impacts on Earth’s Systems- Human activities in agriculture, industry, and everyday life have had major effects on the land, vegetation, streams, ocean, air, and even outer space. But individuals and communities are doing things to help protect Earth’s resources and environments.

Other Potential Standards Connections:

  • 1-ESS1- Earth’s Place in the Universe
    • C: The History of Planet Earth- Some events happen very quickly; others occur very slowly, over a time period much longer than one can observe.
  • 5-PS3 – Energy
    • D: Energy in Chemical Processes and Everyday Life- The energy released (from) food was once energy from the sun that was captured by plants in the chemical process that forms plant matter.
  • 5-LS2 - Cycles of matter and energy transfer in ecosystems
    • A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems – A healthy ecosystem is one in which multiple species of different types are each able to meet their needs in a relatively stable web of life. Newly introduced species can damage the balance of an ecosystem.
    • B: Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems - Matter cycles between the air and soil and among plants, animals, and microbes as these organisms live and die. Organisms obtain gases, and water, from the environment, and release waste matter (gas, liquid, or solid) back into the environment.
  • MS- PS3: Energy
  • MS-LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
  • MS-ESS1: Earth’s Place in the Universe
  • MS- ESS2: Earth’s Systems
  • MS-ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
  • MS-ETS1: Engineering Design
  • High School Engineering Design Storyline
  • HS-PS3: Energy
  • HS- ESS1: Earth’s Place in the Universe
  • HS- ESS2: Earth’s Systems
  • HS- ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
  • HS-ETS1: Engineering Design
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