U.S. Energy Geography Teacher Guide

NEED has created and compiled a variety of maps for use in your classroom that show where energy resources are located in the United States, and on other energy-related information. Many maps are interactive, allowing you and your students to zoom in and find more detailed information, while others are static (still) images.

How to Use the Maps

For directions on how to use the interactive maps, watch this video. It helps to watch it in full-screen mode. Captions at the bottom of the screen explain how to make full use of the maps.


Included in this guide are some ways you can use the maps to integrate geography and economic topics into your energy discussions, although the possibilities are endless.

Activity Ideas

Top 10 Activity
Objective: To recognize a correlation between states’ populations and energy consumption.

Using the online map for Population, list the top ten states in order of population size, starting with the most populous. 

Note: The alphabetical list can be sorted by clicking on the arrow next to “population” in lower left corner.

Population Top 10: CA, TX, NY, FL, IL, PA, OH, MI, GA, NC             

  1. Discuss why these states are more populated than others. Where are these states located? Why are people drawn to live in these states?
  2. Using the online map for Total Energy Consumption by State map, list the top ten states in order of most energy consumption, starting with the state that uses the greatest amount.

Total Energy Consumption Top 10: TX, CA, FL, NY, IL, PA, OH, LA, GA, MI

  1. Discuss the factors that cause these states to consume the most energy: What is their location in the country? Climate? Number of people living there? Rural or urban? Historically a lot of industry there?
  2. In your science notebook, write down a few sentences summarizing the correlation between states with the highest populations and their energy consumption.

Compare and Contrast Activity

Objective: To understand the diversity of energy usage across America, and to compare and contrast the energy use of the students’ home state to a state having either more or less energy consumption.

1. View the Total Energy Consumption By State map. Locate your home state on the map, and record how much energy is consumed by your state in a year in trillion Btu.

2. Find a state on the map that consumes much more, or much less, energy than your state. For example, if you live in a red state, choose a state that is green. (OR, assign every student a different state to compare to the home state)

3. In your science notebook, draw a table and record the following information. Remember to include units.


My State’s Name:

Comparison State’s Name:

Total Energy Consumption






Energy Expenditures



Electricity Generation



4. In your science notebook, draw another table and record the following information. Remember to include units. List information you learn from the maps about the sources of energy in each state. Research and think about:

  • Which sources are producing electricity? How much? How does that compare to the rest of the U.S.?
  • Are there any sources of energy reserves? How many? How does that compare to the rest of the U.S.?
  • What sources of energy are being consumed? How does that compare to the rest of the U.S.?

Sources of Energy

My State’s Name:

Comparison State’s Name:




Natural Gas



Crude Oil





















5. Analyze the information from both tables. Write a few paragraphs describing how the two states you investigated are alike and different.

6. Think about what you’ve learned. In your science notebook, write down a few sentences summarizing what you’ve learned about energy usage in America.

Energy Source Production Activity

Objective: To recognize that the production of energy resources occurs throughout the U.S., and that some states consuming the most energy are producing the most as well.

  1. Assign students to small groups.
  2. Student groups will use the U.S. Energy Geography online maps to research the top five states producing each source of energy. Write down the information on the chart in their science notebooks.
  3. On the blank map, draw each energy source’s symbol on the corresponding top five states. (include source graphics in the columns)
  4. When all groups are finished, review and discuss the maps. Do any states produce energy from more than one source? Is there a connection between the number of sources a state uses to generate electricity and how much energy the state consumes? (Hint - look back to the Top 10 Activity data). Why do you think Florida, that consumes more energy than 47 other states, and generates more electricity than 47 other states, does not produce a top amount of energy? Do some areas of the country produce less energy than others? How can you explain this?
  5. In your science notebook, write a reflection summarizing what you know about energy production in the U.S.

Top Five States


Natural Gas

Crude Oil

Nuclear (percent of electricity generated using nuclear energy)






































Critical Thinking

Pose questions to your students that get them thinking deeper about the topics.

Sample Questions

  1. Which five states do you think have the most people?
  2. Now, use the maps to find the answer, writing them from greatest population to least.
  3. What do these states have in common?  What factors might contribute to their large population?
  4. Which states do you think will use the most energy?  Why?  How could you change this map to make it show if the people in green states are really “being green”?
  5. Make some form of visual comparing energy expenditures and energy consumption (chart, graph…).  Are they perfect matches?  Explain.
  6. Before looking at the map, which states do you think make the most electricity? What sources do these states use?  Now look at the map.  Which ones actually make the most electricity?  Do additional research on two states that surprise you to see what sources they use.
  7. What type of power plants do you have in your state?  Predict, and then check the map.  Which ones surprised you?  What resource patterns do you notice throughout the country?
  8. Analyze the three coal maps.  Are the states that are using a lot of coal the ones that are producing a lot of coal?  How does coal get moved from one state to another?  What patterns or surprises do you find in your analysis?
  9. If you had to name the top three energy-rich states, which would they be?  Use the maps to find facts to back your opinion.  What factors did you consider?
  10. Analyze your state using all the source maps.  Write a letter explaining to the governor your plan for increasing energy production in your state, being as specific as you can.

Ways to Have Students Respond

  • Have students answer each question twice – once as a prediction (they may need to use a map in their textbook or a regular wall map to assist), then using the maps to find the actual answer. 
  • Pull up map page on an interactive white board or projector, and have students predict which map will have the answer to the question.  Then open the predicted map and have students answer from the projected map.
  • Use the maps as a full lesson, or use them as an introduction to class.  Have a question posted each day (pass out a question sheet to save copying time or as a modification for students with copying difficulties) as students enter the classroom.
  • Use the Kids Teaching Kids approach (to use full class or for early finishers):
    • Give each group/pair/child a map and have them find a way to explain it to the class – through predicting/questioning/explanation.
    • Use the question of the day idea, but assign each child a question.  When their question comes up, they become the teacher.  For students needing extra assistance, help them prepare their question ahead of time, so they will feel success.
    • Have students create their own questions about maps that you leave at a center or post in the room.
    • Use them in conjuncture with a graphing unit.  Discuss how important titles are, have them decide which type of graph will best show the information, and then create the graph.

US Power Plants

The Energy Information Administration, EIA, has made available online interactive maps with locations of power plants, cogeneration facilities, oil refineries, natural gas processing sites, and the location of pipelines and other energy transportation systems. All of these features are displayed on the state map as it is loaded, and the user can select which features should be displayed at any given time.

The general US States Overview web page at EIA is www.eia.gov/state. A clickable map of the United States is shown; clicking on a state opens that state’s profile page.