Hydropower/STEM/Resources/Educator Resources

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Educator Resources

Welcome to the Hydropower Educator Resources section. This database of resources, lesson plans, and related materials is available to help educators learn and teach about hydropower. We want to make it easy for educators at all levels to quickly find curricula, activities, and other tools that will help energize students about a hydro-powered future and related concepts.

Refine your resource search by clicking on Education Level, Resource Type, Subject, and/or Topic below and selecting from the drop-down menus. You can also search by keyword.

showing educator resources

Hands-on Activity: Falling Water

Source: Teach Engineering

Description: Students drop water from different heights to demonstrate the conversion of water's potential energy to kinetic energy.

Topics explored: kinetic energy conversion

AC Generator

Source: Centralia College

Description: a PowerPoint slideshow depicting AC generators

Topics explored: parts of a generator, theory of operation, frequency and poles, losses, ratings

All about Federal Hydropower Infographic

Source: Bonneville Power Administration

Description: an infographic overview of federal hydropower

Topics covered: federal hydropower infrastructure, public-private partnerships, national security and economic benefits of federal hydropower

Are Dams Forever?

Source: Teach Engineering

Description: Students learn in this lesson, and through the associated activity, that dams are constructed with specific purposes and unfortunately do not last forever. Similar to other human-made structures, such as roads and bridges, dams require regular maintenance and have a finite lifespan.

Topics explored: hydropower basics; hydrology; dam engineering; dam history; dam types

Besides Fossil Fuels Where Else Do We Get Energy

Source: Xcel Energy

Description: illustrated overview of non-fossil fuel energy sources

Topics explored: hydropower, wind energy, solar energy, biomass

Careers in Energy: Who Works for an Energy Company?

Source: Xcel Energy

Description: illustrated overview of the types of careers available at an energy company

Topics explored: sales and marketing, product developers, portfolio managers, risk consultants, energy traders, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, chemical engineers, environmental engineers, more careers

Classroom Presentation on Hydropower

Source: Snohomish County PUD

Description: Presentation on hydropower and energy systems

Topics explored: energy 101, hydrology

Colorado River Storage Project Management Center

Source: Western Area Power Administration

Description: overview of the Colorado River Storage Project Management Center

Topics explored: overview of the Colorado River Storage Project Management Center, which markets power from the Colorado River Storage and its participating projects (Dolores and Seedskadee) and the Collbran and Rio Grande projects

Dam Forces

Source: Teach Engineering

Description: Students learn how the force of water helps determine the size and shape of dams. They use clay to build models of four types of dams, and observe the force of the water against each type. They conclude by deciding which type of dam they, as Splash Engineering engineers, will design for Thirsty County.

Topics explored: hydropower basics; dam engineering history; hydrology; dam materials; dam types

Dam Impacts

Source: Teach Engineering

Description: While the creation of a dam provides many benefits, it can have negative impacts on local ecosystems. Using the associated activity students learn about the major environmental impacts of dams and the engineering solutions used to address them.

Topics explored: Dam engineering; agriculture; environmental considerations; hydrology

Dam Pass or Fail

Source: Teach Engineering

Description: Students conduct Internet research to investigate the purpose and current functioning status of some of the largest dams throughout the world. They investigate the success or failure of eight dams and complete a worksheet. While researching the dams, they also gain an understanding of the scale of these structures by recording and comparing their reservoir capacities.

Topics explored: Dam engineering; dam lifetimes; infrastructure; dam history

Dams: Activities and Lessons

Source: American Society of Civil Engineering

Description: Three activity lessons: Busy as a Beaver (grades 3-4), Four Corners Reservoir (grades 5-6), Hydropower! (grades 7-8)

Topics explored: properties of objects and materials; motion and forces; dams; engineering

Digital Energy

Source: National Energy Education Development Project

Description: Students use NEED Infobooks and graphics to prepare digital presentations that teach others about energy topics

Topics explored: energy 101, energy sources, energy consumption

Do As the Romans: Construct an Aqueduct

Source: Teach Engineering

Description: Students work with specified materials to create aqueduct components that can transport two liters of water across a short distance in the classroom. The design challenge is to create an aqueduct that can supply Aqueductis, a (hypothetical) Roman city, with clean water for private homes, public baths and fountains as well as crop irrigation.

Topics explored: Civil engineering; agriculture; environmental considerations; history

Earth Force Resources

Important critical thinking and learning skills are developed when students conduct research, communicate with expert volunteers and other stakeholders, and discuss and defend their findings and opinions. Tools on this site will help students make informed decisions and evaluations about sources and information, find quality information on environmental topics from reputable sources, and ask questions and interact with stakeholders and expert volunteers.

Educational Kits

Source: National Energy Education Development Project

Description: Four different levels of kits that educate students about water cycle, kinetic energy transformations, and electricity.

Topics explored: hydropower, hydrology, energy 101

Energy Kids

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Description: a website

Topics explored: energy, using and saving energy, history of energy, games and activities

Energy Kids: Hydropower Timelines

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Description: a timeline of hydropower events

Topics explored: hydropower events from the ancient Greeks to today

Energy Kids: Renewable Hydropower

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Description: Energy Kids Hydropower webpage

Topics explored: hydropower basics, the water cycle, history of hydropower, where hydropower is generated, hydropower and the environment, fish ladders, tidal power, tidal turbines, wave power, ocean thermal energy

Energy and Wildlife: Do You Like to Work with Animals

Source: Xcel Energy

Description: an illustrated 1-pager discussing birds and Xcel Energy's nest cams

Topics explored: nest cams, bird cams, raptors

Exploring Hydroelectricity

Source: The National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project

Description: A kit-based unit for secondary students that includes teacher and student guides containing comprehensive background information on hydropower, ocean energy technologies, and electricity. Students will build a turbine generation model, and will investigate case studies, a history of hydropower timeline, and information on careers in the hydropower industry. The curriculum includes hands-on, inquiry-based explorations, group presentations, and a cooperative learning activity focusing on ways to use hydropower to increase electricity generation for a local community. The kit contains most of the materials needed to conduct the inquiry-based activities. Several activities in the unit are multidisciplinary and are appropriate for language arts and social studies classes.

Topics explored: potential and kinetic energy; moving water is a renewable energy source; dams; harnessing and converting the energy in moving water; new technologies for harnessing the energy in ocean tides, waves, and currents; advantages and disadvantages of hydropower

Federal Columbia River Power System

Source: Federal Columbia River Power System

Description: a 10-page illustrated brochure with photos that provides an overview of the Federal Columbia River Power System, a unique collaboration among three U.S. government agencies: the Bonneville Power Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Bureau of Reclamation.

Topics explored: Protecting fish and wildlife, controlling floods, providing irrigation and navigation, and sustaining cultural resources while using the Columbia River to generate power

Fish Ladder at Bonneville Dam

Source: Energy Information Administration

Description: photo of fish ladder

Topics explored: fish ladder, dams

Fish-Friendly Engineering

Source: Teach Engineering

Description: Students further their understanding of the salmon life cycle and the human structures and actions that aid in the migration of fish around hydroelectric dams by playing an animated PowerPoint game involving a fish that must climb a fish ladder to get over a dam. They first brainstorm their own ideas, and then learn about existing ways engineers have made dams "friendlier" to migrating fish, before being quizzed as part of the game.

Topics explored: Civil engineering; fish migration; fish ladder; environmental considerations; hydrology

Fuel Mix: BPA, Northwest, and National

Source: Bonneville Power Administration

Description: Breakdown of power generation fuels in Bonneville Power Administration territory, the Northwest U.S., and the U.S. as a whole

Topics explored: hydroelectricity supply and geography

Fuel Mix: Northwest and National

Source: Bonneville Power Administration

Description: Power generation fuel mix of the Northwest U.S. and the U.S. as a whole

Topics explored: hydroelectricity supply and geography

Harnessing Hydropower

Source: Western Area Power Administration

Description: a 20-page PDF providing an overview of hydropower

Topics explored: history of hydropower, water and energy, transmission, turbines and generators, the power grid

Homeschool Programs

Source: Snohomish County PUD

Description: Snohomish County PUD is proud to offer FREE classroom presentations about energy and energy conservation for Snohomish County and Camano Island homeschool students ages 9-13 in the fall and in the spring. We offer hands-on lessons in a traditional classroom setting that challenge students to investigate electrical circuits, energy resources and energy conservation. Homeschool programs are held at our headquarters building in Everett.

Topics explored: energy 101, homeschool, lessons, conservation

How Are Power Sources Converted to Electricity

Source: Xcel Energy

Description: an illustrated overview of how different power sources are converted to electricity

Topics explored: power from steam, water, natural gas, wind, and solar, plus an illustration of how power gets to the home

How Electricity Moves from Nature to Your Home

Source: U.S. Department of Energy/Bonneville Power Adminsitration

Description: Graphic depicting the water cycle

Topics explored: the water cycle, precipitation, dams

How to Build a Turbine Science Lab

Source: Bonneville Power Administration

Description: a video with instructions on how to build a turbine in a classroom lab

Topics explored: what turbines are and how they generate energy

Hydro Flows Here City Power

Source: Bonneville Power Administration

Description: Image describing Northwest hydropower production in terms of Seattle-sized city demand

Topics explored: electricity supply and demand

Hydro Flows Here Columbia River

Source: Bonneville Power Administration

Description: Image describing the hydropower production primacy of the Columbia River Basin

Topics explored: hydroelectricity supply and geography

Hydro Flows Here Emissions Offset

Source: Bonneville Power Administration

Description: Image describing avoided emissions due to hydropower in the language of transportation emissions

Topics explored: fuels, emissions, energy sectors

Hydro Flows Here Irrigation Benefits

Source: Bonneville Power Administration

Description: Image describing the connection between hydropower's irrigation benefits and increased agricultural production

Topics explored: energy sectors, agriculture, irrigation

Hydro Project Regulations Overview

Source: U.S. Department of Energy Federal Energy Regulatory Committee

Description: a PowerPoint presentation

Topics explored: hydro 101, what does FERC regulate, FERC organizational structure, hydropower jurisdiction, types of projects, licensing, National Environmental Policy Act, other laws and regulations, balancing

Hydroelectric Dam

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Description: an illustration of a hydroelectric dam

Topics explored: generator, turbine, intake, reservoir, penstock, powerhouse

Hydropower Basics

Source: Centralia College

Description: a PowerPoint slideshow of the basics of hydropower

Topics explored: dams, dams in the world, dam terminology, head, flow, volume, types of dams

Hydropower Basics (EIA)

Source: Energy Information Administration

Description: Overview of hydropower's place in the energy and water systems, with geographical information

Topics explored: Hydrology; dams; energy system; generation mix; water cycle

Hydropower Flow Diagram

Source: Bonneville Power Administration

Description: Overview of hydropower's place in the energy and water systems

Topics explored: Hydrology; dams; energy system; water cycle

Hydropower I: the Dam

Source: PurposeGames

Description: Watch an online video, play a game, and label the parts of a dam

Topics explored: The parts of a hydroelectric dam

Hydropower Plant DACUM Report

Source: Centralia College

Description: findings from a group of subject matter experts on the hydropower workforce, funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration

Topics explored: typical profile of an entry-level worker at a Northwest hydro plant; core knowledge and skills needed

Hydropower STEMersion Workshop

Source: Snohomish County PUD

Description: unique opportunity for Snohomish County educators who teach about how energy is generated! Participants will be immersed in all aspects of hydropower during this workshop.

Topics explored: workshop, education, hydrology

Hydropower at a Glance

Source: National Energy Education Development Project

Description: a 1-page infographic overview of hydropower

Topics explored: the water cycle, top hydro states, the parts of a hydro plant

Hydropower from Dam to Doorstep

Source: Bonneville Power Administration

Description: Infographic displaying the steps involved from generating electricity at a dam to delivering that electricity to customers

Topics explored: electricity grid, hydropower engineering

Hydropower in the NW Facts

Source: Bonneville Power Administration

Description: Overview of hydropower benefits in the northwest U.S.

Topics explored: emissions, grid management

Hydropower: From Water to Watt

Source: Bonneville Power Administration

Description: a one-page graphic providing an overview of the hydrologic cycle

Topics explored: the hydrologic cycle, water and energy, dams, turbines and generators, spillways

Interactive Hydropower Infographic

Source: National Energy Education Development Project

Project description: an interactive infographic that allows students to drag and drop statements to match the parts of the dam

Topics explored: the water cycle, hydroelectricity to home electricity, how water flows through a dam to create electricity

Intro to Hydropower (Part 1)

Source: Canyon Hydro

Description: Overview of engineering and scientific concepts surrounding hydropower. Part 1: Systems Overview

Topics explored: generator; flow; dam engineering; turbines; powerhouse; penstock

Intro to Hydropower (Part 2)

Source: Canyon Hydro

Description: Overview of engineering and scientific concepts surrounding small-scale hydropower. Part 2: Measuring Head & Flow

Topics explored: generator; flow; dam engineering; turbines; powerhouse; penstock; small-scale hydro

Intro to Hydropower (Part 3)

Source: Canyon Hydro

Description: Overview of engineering and scientific concepts surrounding small-scale hydropower. Part 3: Power, Efficiency, Transmission & Equipment Selection

Topics explored: generator; flow; dam engineering; turbines; powerhouse; penstock; small-scale hydro

Investing in a Connected Future

Source: Western Area Power Administration

Description: 2019 Annual Report for Western Area Power Administration

Topics explored: overview of Western, service and marketing areas, hydropower generation

Knowledge Stream (USBR)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Description: The Knowledge Stream published by the Bureau of Reclamation’s Research and Development Office, is a quarterly magazine bringing mission-critical news about the agency's research and science, as well as the many challenges associated with managing water and generating power in the West, including: projects, tools, methods, practices, results, innovation, prize competitions, publications, and more.

Topics explored: Hydrology; dams; data; workforce training; research; environmental considerations

Learning Power

Source: Georgia Power

Description: Georgia Power and Dr. E have teamed up to deliver fun activities, games and puzzles that bring the exciting world of electricity to life for teachers, students and parents. In addition, teachers can schedule an in-class Learning Power lesson for their classroom. All Learning Power lessons meet Georgia Performance Standards and incorporate STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects.

Topics explored: electricity generation; generation mix; potential and kinetic energy; energy efficiency

Lesson: A River Ran Through It

Source: Teach Engineering

Description: Students learn how water is used to generate electricity.

Topics explored: Water's potential-to-kinetic energy transformation, falling water and waterwheels, measurements, the history of the waterwheel, how engineers use water turbines in hydroelectric power plants today, advantages and disadvantages of hydroelectric power.

Lesson: Clean Energy: Hydropower

Source: Teach Engineering

Description: Hydropower generation is introduced to students as a common purpose and benefit of constructing dams. Through an introduction to kinetic and potential energy, students come to understand how a dam creates electricity. They also learn the difference between renewable and non-renewable energy.

Topics explored: how a dam produces electricity, the differences between renewable and non-renewable energy.

Locks and Dams

Source: Teach Engineering

Description: Students are introduced to the structure, function and purpose of locks and dams, which involves an introduction to Pascal's law, water pressure and gravity.

Topics explored: Civil engineering; locks and dams; water pressure; hydrology

Make Your Own Hydropower (Kit)

Source: Foundation for Water & Energy Education

Description: Hands-on exploration of generating electricity with water power. Ideal for science fair project, a demonstration, or other unique project.

Topics explored: hydropower, activities

Make Your Own Hydropower Lesson Plan

Source: Foundation for Water and Energy Education

Description: a lesson plan

Topics explored: the principles of generating electricity, the role of hydropower in the Northwest and nationally, other sources of electrical generation

Micro Hydropower Syllabus

Source: Agricultural Energy Curriculum

Description: Goals, structure, sources, and educational benchmarks for a micro hydropower course

Topics explored: hydrology, micro-hydropower, environmental science, grid management

Modular Hydro Video

Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Description: Visual mockup of potential small-scale modular hydropower installations

Topics explored: Modular hydro; dams; harnessing and converting the energy in moving water; new technologies

NEED Energy of Moving Water Student Guide

Source: National Energy Education Development Project

Description: Hydropower and hydrology in the context of energy and power production: student guide

Topics explored: hydrology, grid management

NEED Energy of Moving Water Teacher Guide

Source: National Energy Education Development Project

Description: Hydropower and hydrology in the context of energy and power production: teacher guide

Topics explored: hydrology, grid management

NEED Hydropower Materials

Source: National Energy Education Development Project

Description: Presentations and interactive resources on hydropower

Topics explored: hydropower, hydrology

NEED Water and Energy Student Guide

Source: National Energy Education Development Project

Description: Introductory activities related to phases of matter and water energy: student guide

Topics explored: phases of matter, hands-on discovery, fundamental energy concepts

NEED Water and Energy Teacher Guide

Source: National Energy Education Development Project

Description: Introductory activities related to phases of matter and water energy: teacher guide

Topics explored: phases of matter, hands-on discovery, fundamental energy concepts

Nature of Water Power Lesson Plan

Source: Foundation for Water and Energy Education

Description: a lesson plan with currciculum units

Topics explored: What is the Water Cycle? How is Flowing Water an Energy Source? How Can Work Be Done With Water Power? How Can a Dam Affect a River? How Can Community Values Affect the Energy Resources We Select? How Can Communication of Scientific Knowledge Influence Others?

Off the Grid Lesson

Source: CU Boulder Engineering

Description: a 15-minute online lesson

Topics explored: the advantages and disadvantages of renewable and non-renewable energy sources, the electric power grid, what it means for a residential home to be "off the grid"

Packwood Lake

Source: Energy Northwest

Description: History, impact, and operational details of the Packwood Lake hydropower facility

Topics explored: hydropower facilities, engineering, hydrology

Packwood Lake Hydro Diagram

Source: Energy Northwest

Description: Diagram tracking water flow from a lake through a dam and powerhouse.

Topics explored: hydropower facilities, engineering, hydrology

Penstock Pals Activity

Source: Foundation for Water and Energy Education

Description: a classroom activity

Topics explored: using water as a resource for generating electricity in the Northwest

Power Wheel (Kit)

Source: Foundation for Water & Energy Education

Description: Connects to classroom faucet or outside hose

Topics explored: hydropower, engineering, activities

Power Your House with Water Hands-On Activity

Source: CU Boulder Engineering

Description: a 3-hour classroom activity

Topics explored: how engineers design devices that use water to generate electricity by building model water turbines and measuring the resulting current produced in a motor

Power, Work, and the Water Wheel

Source: Teach Engineering

Description: Civil, geotechnical, environmental, mechanical and electrical engineers collaborate to design and construct dams that generate electricity from the flow of water. When engineers design these dams, called hydroelectric power plants, they calculate the amount of power that can be generated by the plant. Knowing the dam's potential power generation, they can further estimate the maximum rural or urban region that can be supplied with electricity generated from the dam.

Topics explored: hydropower basics; dam engineering; power plants; activity

Powering Smallsburg

Source: Teach Engineering

Description: Students act as engineers by specifying the power plants to build for a community. They are given a budget, an expected power demand from the community, and different power plant options with corresponding environmental effects. Guided by a worksheet, teams work through the hypothetical real-world scenario to arrive at recommendations that they present to the class; group "answers" vary widely, depending on their identified city priorities.

Topics explored: electricity mix; fuel types; power plants

Powering the U.S.

Source: Teach Engineering

Description: This lesson provides students with an overview of the electric power industry in the United States. Students also become familiar with the environmental impacts associated with a variety of energy sources.

Topics explored: electricity mix; fuel types; power plants

ROV Pilot Marine Technology

Source: Coastal Studies Institute

Description: Activity and questions related to data collection and remote operated vehicles (ROVs)

Topics explored: data collection; ocean exploration; coding

Renewable Energy Sources

Source: Energy Providers Coalition for Education

Description: an online course

Topics explored: energy; non-renewable and renewable energy sources; function, operation, and vision of the Smart Grid; careers in the energy industry

Renewable Energy: Hydropower (Video)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Description: A 7-minute YouTube video exploring hydropower in the West and the role of the Bureau of Reclamation

Topics explored: Jordanelle Dam, enhancing plant efficiencies, increasing plant generation

SCADA and Power System Operations Overview

Source: SMRS College of Engineering and Technology

Description: a PowerPoint presentation

Topics explored: What is SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), history of SCADA, common components of SCADA, future trends in SCADA

Snohomish County PUD Woods Creek Virtual Tour

Source: Snohomish County PUD

Description: The Woods Creek Hydroelectric Project is located north of the city of Monroe, Washington, and has a nameplate capacity of 0.65 MW. The project is adjacent to Woods Creek, a tributary of the Skykomish River, with a powerhouse located at a natural impassible barrier to fish

Topics explored: video, virtual tour, hydroelectricity supply, geography

Snohomish County PUD Woods Creek Virtual Tour Teacher Guide

Source: Snohomish County PUD

Description: Teacher Guide and Q&A Reference for The Woods Creek Hydroelectric Project Virtual Tour

Topics explored: video, virtual tour, hydroelectricity supply, geography, teacher guide

Splash, Zippy, and the Hydro Pals

Source: Bonneville Power Administration

Description: Coloring and activity book depicting how water can be turned into electricity

Topics explored: the water cycle, precipitation, dams

Student Energy Energy System Map

Source: Student Energy

Description: The Energy System map includes an interactive map view, a searchable energy topics index view, and accompanying videos.

Topics explored: climate change, energy justice, climate policy, sustainable goals, all energy sources, production, conversion, transport, distribution, use, and influences

Swim to and from the Sea

Source: Teach Engineering

Description: Students are introduced to the basic biology behind Pacific salmon migration and the many engineered Columbia River dam structures that aid in their passage through the river's hydroelectric dams. Students apply what they learn about the salmon life cycle as they think of devices and modifications that might be implemented at dams to permit the natural cycle of fish migration, and as they make (hypothetical) Splash Engineering presentations about their proposed fish mitigation solutions for Birdseye River's dam in Thirsty County.

Topics explored: Civil engineering; fish migration; environmental considerations; hydrology

Syllabus-Undergraduate-Centralia College-Crawford

Source: Rulon Crawford, Centralia College

Description: syllabus for PPO 208APP: Hydro Electricity, a 200-level undergraduate class at Centralia College

Topics explored: an introductory study of how electricity is generated from hydro dams

Syllabus-Undergraduate-University of Arizona-Bauer

Source: Carl Bauer, University of Arizona

Description: syllabus for GEOG/EVS 304: Water, Environment, and Society, a 300-level undergraduate class at the University of Arizona

Topics explored: This course looks at how different human societies have used and lived with water resources in arid regions, where water scarcity is a dominant factor in economic and social life. We focus especially on Western and Southwestern North America, including both historical and contemporary examples of Euro-American and Native American societies. The course combines geography, history, law, and other social sciences. The goals are to better understand some of today’s critical water policy problems, and more generally the relationship between water and people.

Syllabus-Undergraduate-University of Arizona-Bauer III

Source: Carl Bauer, University of Arizona

Description: syllabus for GEOG/EVS 468: Water and Sustainability, a 400-level undergraduate class at the University of Arizona

Topics explored: This course combines geography, history, and political economy to try to better understand the relationship between water and society over time. Who owns water and how? How have humans changed river systems over time? With what benefits and costs and for whom? The first two-thirds of the course focuses on the history of water development and water rights in the Western U.S., an arid region in which control of water has long been critical to economic and population growth. The last third of the course turns to contemporary international water debates, including the pros and cons of large dams, the World Bank, water markets and privatization, environmental flows and river governance, and climate change.

Syllabus-Undergraduate-University of Arizona-Bauer IV

Source: Carl Bauer, University of Arizona

Description: syllabus for GEOG/EVS 462: Environmental Law, Geography, and Society-Capstone Glen Canyon Dam, a 400-level undergraduate class at the University of Arizona

Topics explored: The Capstone is a group research project to study the environmental legal issues involving the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River in the past, present, and future

Syllabus-Undergraduate-University of Arizona-Bauer II

Source: Carl Bauer, University of Arizona

Description: syllabus for GEOG/EVS 462: Environmental Law, Geography, and Society, a 400-level undergraduate class at the University of Arizona

Topics explored: This course offers an overview of environmental law and its strengths and weaknesses in the United States. We grapple with legal rules and principles as well as their larger social and geographic contexts. How have people in the U.S. used laws to solve environmental problems over time? We begin with the essential features of the U.S. legal system and public policy process, as they affect environmental and natural resource issues. We learn about key environmental laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act, and how their different approaches have worked in practice. This means we also consider political, economic, geographic, and other factors that influence environmental law and whether it succeeds or fails. The final part of the course looks at environmental law in relation to hydropower and electricity, which in turn connects to global energy use and climate change.

Technical Writing About River Current Power

Source: Teach Engineering

Description: Students learn about power generation using river currents. A white paper is a focused analysis often used to describe how a technology solves a problem. In this literacy activity, students write a simplified version of a white paper on an alternative electrical power generation technology.

Topics explored: run of river; electricity generation; hydroelectricity; white paper; writing skills

The 10 Energy Sources

Source: National Energy Education Development Project

Description: a one-page colorful visual describing the 10 energy sources

Topics explored: renewable and non-renewable energy sources

The HYDRO+ Series

The HYDRO+ Series brought together the hydropower community for perspective and discussion on issues affecting hydropower resources, meeting challenges and ensuring the future sustainability of hydropower. The series covered six topics: generators, waterpower hydro, operations and maintenance, small hydropower developments, Midwest environmental issues, and regulating dam safety.

The Nature of Water Power

Source: Foundation for Water & Energy Education

Description: FWEE offers a six-unit, hands-on curriculum entitled The Nature of Water Power for grades 4–8. The focus is on the Northwest states, where a large percentage of the electricity is generated by hydropower.

Topics explored: hydropower, kinetic energy conversion

The Water Cycle

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Description: illustration of the water cycle

Topics explored: solar energy, precipitation, evaporation

Types of Dams

Source: Centralia College

Description: a PowerPoint slideshow depicting types of dams

Topics explored: dams, embankment dams, concrete dams, composite dams, additional dam design elements

Types of Turbines

Source: Centralia College

Description: a PowerPoint slideshow depicting types of turbines

Topics explored: what is a turbine, impulse turbines, Pelton's Wheel, cross-flow turbine, reaction turbine, Kaplan's turbine, Francis Turbine, gas turbines, kinetic turbines, wind turbines

Under Pressure

Source: Teach Engineering

Description: Students learn about Pascal's law, an important concept behind the engineering of dam and lock systems. Students observe the behavior of water in plastic water bottles spilling through holes punctured at different heights, seeing the distance water spurts from the holes, learning how water at a given depth exerts equal pressure in all directions, and how water at increasing depths is under increasing pressure.

Topics explored: hydropower basics; hydrology; dam materials; dam types; water pressure

Water Cycle Hexaflexagon

Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Bonneville Power Authority

Description: this hexaflexagon uses a special geometric form to show the phases of the water cycle

Topics explored: transpiration, precipitation, vaporization, sublimation, condensation, storage, distribution

Water Power Hands-On Activity

Source: CU Boulder Engineering

Description: a 45-minute classroom activity

Topics explored: a model waterwheel, the transformations of energy involved in turning the blades of a hydro-turbine

Water Resources: Why Do We Build Dams?

Source: Teach Engineering

Description: Students are introduced to the concept of a dam and its potential benefits, which include water supply, electricity generation, flood control, recreation and irrigation. This lesson begins an ongoing classroom scenario in which student engineering teams working for the Splash Engineering firm design dams for a fictitious client, Thirsty County.

Topics explored: hydropower basics; dam engineering; power plants; flood control

Water and Dams in Today's World

Source: Teach Engineering

Description: Students learn about the importance of dams by watching a video that presents historical and current information on dams, as well as descriptions of global water resources and the hydrologic cycle. Students also learn about different types of dams, all designed to resist the forces on dams.

Topics explored: hydropower basics; dam engineering history; hydrology; dam materials

Watersheds and Wetlands

Source: Center of Excellence for Clean Energy

Description: PDF of a PowerPoint presentation

Topics explored: fresh water sources, the hydrologic cycle, evaporation, transpiration, precipitation, runoff, groundwater, groundwater contamination, types of water flow, velocity, sediment loads, watersheds, stream biology, stream ecosystems, wetlands, water pollution, mining, ocean and marine dumping, dissolved oxygen in water

Waterwheel Work

Source: Teach Engineering

Description: Students learn the history of the waterwheel and common uses for water turbines today. They explore kinetic energy by creating their own experimental waterwheel from a two-liter plastic bottle. They investigate the transformations of energy involved in turning the blades of a hydro-turbine into work, and experiment with how weight affects the rotational rate of the waterwheel. Students also discuss and explore the characteristics of hydroelectric plants.

Topics explored: kinetic energy; water wheel; activity; energy conversion

Western: The Choice Is Yours

Source: Western Area Power Administration

Description: a recruiting brochure for careers at Western Area Power Administration

Topics explored: about Western, why work for Western, how to apply at Western

Wonders of Water

Source: National Energy Education Development Project

Description: Wonders of Water video lesson/demonstration

Topics explored: activity; electricity generation; hydroelectricity; potential and kinetic energy

Wonders of Water Teacher and Student Guides

Source: National Energy Education Development Project

Description: A STEM-based unit that introduces elementary learners to water and energy. Concepts are reinforced through hands-on investigations and language arts activities.

Topics explored: forms of energy, electricity, electric circuits, properties of water, and how water can be used as an energy source

Your Future in Hydropower Student Guide

Source: The NEED Project

Description: This student guide offers career and technology education activities that provide hands-on experience with tools, circuits, materials, fluids, and job readiness.

Topics explored: Moving water as a renewable source of energy, electricity, electrical current, voltage, power, circuits, electromagnetic induction, electricity transmission, the water cycle, properties of water, hand and power tools and torque or pressure, hydropower facilities, dams, turbines, generators, properties of concrete, fluid dynamics, gears, environmental impacts of hydropower

Your Future in Hydropower Teacher Guide

Source: The NEED Project

Description: This teacher guide offers career and technology education activities that provide hands-on experience with tools, circuits, materials, fluids, and job readiness.

Topics explored: Moving water as a renewable source of energy, electricity, electrical current, voltage, power, circuits, electromagnetic induction, electricity transmission, the water cycle, properties of water, hand and power tools and torque or pressure, hydropower facilities, dams, turbines, generators, properties of concrete, fluid dynamics, gears, environmental impacts of hydropower

Electricity 101

Source: the Edison Electric Institute

Description: PDF of PowerPoint slides

Topics explored: a brief history of the U.S. power industry, an overview of how the electricity system and the industry works, an overview of fuel sources and energy policy

Energy in Society

Source: National Energy Education Development Project

Description: These social studies-focused activities will help students to consider how others use energy across their community, region, country, or even the globe, and the reasons their energy consumption might differ. The activities featured in this sampler help to reinforce energy content, while introducing students to energy in context.

Topics explored: sources used to generate electricity, U.S. power generation sources, advantages and challenges of hydropower, challenges associated with siting a power generation facility

Following Nature's Current

Source: Foundation for Water and Energy Education

Description: Balanced information about the use of water as a renewable energy resource in the Northwest

Topics explored: the Columbia River Basin, tapping the power of water, the water cycle, powering the Northwest, using the force of falling water to generate electricity, a walk through a hydroelectric project, hydropower and the environment, hydroelectric projects and environmental protection, fish passage tour, fish and wildlife program expenditures, the future of hydropower in the Northwest, increasing energy efficiency and conservation, the power grid, the smart grid, reinvesting in hydropower while integrating wind power, and future water power opportunities

Hydro Model

Source: The Foundation for Water and Energy Education

Description: graphic of the hydropower model

Topics explored: instructions on how to build your own hydroelectric project with a provided 3D replica, the hydrologic cycle, the benefits of hydro

Hydropower: How Electricity Gets from the River to Your House

Source: Bonneville Power Administration

Description: an illustrated 4-page overview of how electricity moves from the river to homes

Topics explored: hydro overview, how electricity moves through power lines in the Northwest, substations

Wind Patterns and Hydropower in the Desert

Source: University of Colorado Boulder

Description: Students learn how the Coriolis effect and Hadley convection cells determine the location of deserts on Earth. Once students understand the importance of global winds, they discuss hydropower in the desert. They compare and contrast two case studies: China’s Three Gorges Dam and Chile’s proposed plant in the Atacama Desert that would creatively use solar power to move seawater up to the top of a mountain so that it can flow back down and generate power.

Topics explored: falling water, global weather patterns, Hadley cells, hydropower model






This portal is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO). The United States Government retains, and the publisher, by accepting the article for publication, acknowledges that the United States Government retains a non-exclusive, paid-up, irrevocable, world-wide license to publish or reproduce the published form of this manuscript, or allow others to do so, for United States Government purposes.

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