NEED Distance Learning Resources

Be sure to check back for updates! NEED will continue to add onto this collection of resources.

A Note from NEED:

The uncertainty of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation has caused many schools and educational institutions to close temporarily. We understand the need for engaging and hands-on ideas for teachers to use in distance learning or for families to use to keep kids thinking, exploring, and inquiring during this time. We pulled together some of our favorites for teachers, students, and families to utilize!  Our offerings have been compiled into 3 sections.

  • Easy Games, Activities, Fairs, and More – for quick assignment and linking. Easy for parents, students and teachers to use.
  • NEED Favorites – NEED activities that can be assigned or completed at home with supervision or minimal instruction.
  • Energy EdTech and Links – Energy friendly tech resources, videos, and links from some of our favorite educators and education partners. These require initial set-up and preview by a teacher or parent.

As always, all NEED curriculum is available for free PDF download at NEED curriculum is organized by grade level, easily differentiated and encompasses multiple subject areas. From the sources of energy, efficiency and conservation, electricity, transportation, and climate science, we’ve got you covered!

If you use any of these activities, send us photos, post on social media, and share your ideas. Making a video to share while doing these activities? Send us the link! If you’re creating energy lessons and want to share them, pass along to us or tag us on social media and we’ll help share your work with the NEED network. You can send your work to us at, or tag us on Twitter (@NEED_Project), Facebook (@NEEDProject), and Instagram (@theneedproject).

NEED has background text, and a variety of games, activities, and energy fair templates to have fun with at home. These pieces are ready to complete for students with little to no effort from teachers and/or parents.

Energy Infobooks

  • Energy Infobooks  – NEED’S Energy Infobooks contain a basic intro to everything energy at four different learning levels – primary, elementary, intermediate, and secondary. Download the entire guide at each level, or download each individual topic area as its own section. We have Energy Infobooks for primary, elementary, intermediate, and secondary levels.
  • Digital Energy Infobook Activities – These quick puzzles and fill-in-the-blank style activities help reinforce the content in NEED Energy Infobooks.  Students will see automatically if their answers are correct.
  • NEED Energy Infobook Activities – These activities reinforce energy content in a fun, artistic, and hands-on way. Download the guide that corresponds to the Energy Infobook and select a few activities to get started. Don’t know where to start? Overwhelmed by all the choices? Download the guide for your level and start with one of these:
    • Grades K-2 – Read about the forms of energy, and then go on a hunt around your home as a Forms of Energy Detective.
    • Grades 3-5 – Read about your favorite source of energy, and then create your own Energy Superhero.
    • Grades 6-8 – Read about the forms of energy, and then create your own Energy Comic Strip.
    • High School – Read about the importance of waste management, and then get influencing with Twittergy – sending messages that encourage recycling.

Energy Carnival

Energy Carnival contains entertaining, energy-related games to reinforce student learning and introduce energy to the classrooms, school, or community. Many of the activities in this piece can easily be modified for home use. We have pulled a few good ones for use at home below. All files are in PDF format.

You can access the full offerings of the primary Energy Carnival here, and the elementary and intermediate Energy Carnival here.

  • Energy Equations (PDF)(Kahoot!)– Get competitive solving energy-related equations. With Energy Equations, participants play a tossing game that determines points earned when correctly answering a math equation related to energy consumption and sources.
  • Energy Jumble (PDF)(Kahoot!)– Word jumbles are our take on a classic puzzle game. With Energy Jumble, there are 8 sets of 5 jumbled energy words to be solved. The first 4 words give clues to the letters needed for the 5th and final word of the set.
  • Top Four (Kahoot!)- Test your energy knowledge on topics like top energy sources, top states for different energy sources, and more by arranging answers in the correct order.
  • Energy Pictionary – Test your knowledge of energy, and see how many energy-related words you can get right as your opponent draws them. Some words are easier than others to draw, who can get the most right?
  • Energy Knockdown – Try your hand at answering energy and energy efficiency questions, with a touch of randomness added. Players throw a ball at cans with categories, and those knocked down determine which questions to answer. If they don’t know, they learn a new piece of energy information!`

Coloring Sheets & Family Fun

  • NEED Coloring Sheets – Need a time filler? Something therapeutic for everyone? Check out these fun coloring sheets, and learn a little about energy while you’re at it!
  • Energy on Stage – This one is fun for the family! Pick a play, select roles, create your own costumes, and action! These plays help to introduce energy content in a fun way. Oh, the drama!
    • Ready to share? Check out our FlipGrid and share your results!

NEED’s library of guides and activities is extensive. The list below contains some teacher and student favorites.  Most of these activities can be completed individually, as a family, or as a virtual challenge where students share their work via video. It is suggested that these activities are previewed by a teacher or adult at home and further instruction or supervision can be added as necessary.

Energy House

Who doesn’t love to create something and work with their hands? Energy House is an activity using common household items such as aluminum foil, cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, and weather stripping. This activity seeks to get students to be able to justify and explain why energy conservation makes sense economically, describe effective energy efficiency measures for the home, and understand how different insulating materials conduct and contain hot and cold air.

Want to build an energy house? You can find the Energy House booklet here.

Energy Games & Icebreakers

NEED’s Energy Games and Icebreakers contains several games students can play at home to learn and reinforce energy knowledge. To view the full Energy Games and Icebreakers offerings, you can see them here! 

  • Energy Source Detective – A critical thinking activity that reinforces student understanding of basic characteristics of the major energy sources that we use everyday in society. Do a little detective work, using knowledge of energy sources, to piece together which image represents which energy source.
  • Candy Collector – A fun game to introduce students to the terms “renewable” and “non-renewable,” Candy Collector gives a closer look at how long energy sources will last using only non-renewable resources, and when incorporating renewable energy resources.
  • America’s Most Wanted Energy Wasters – Increases students’ awareness of their energy wasting habits and reinforces simple energy-saving behaviors.
  • This Week in Energy Conservation – Designed as a TV show with student-correspondents reporting on a variety of energy conservation topics. This Week in Energy Conservation will introduce students to ways of saving energy both in the home and on the road.

More NEED Team Favorites

  • Energy Expo – Students create their own energy exhibit or display after conducting some research on their own. Rubrics with guided questions are provided!
    • Ready to share? Check out our FlipGrid to share your results!
    • For digitally savvy students, have them explore Digital Energyand have them create their own graphics to showcase a topic.
  • Museum of Solid Waste – Feeling trashy? Students can explore how we deal with trash, recycling, and how energy is related. This activity follows the same model as Energy Expo. Talking Trash and All About Trash work well for younger students.
  • Energy Stories and More – Geared for younger students, Energy Stories and More explores energy content through story. Students should read the story and create their own illustrations to assemble a story book. Follow-up activities can be conducted with each topic.
  • Managing Home Energy Use – Learn more about how energy is used in the household as students explore lighting, heating, appliances, and behaviors. Some tools can be used, but most activities can be be completed without specialized equipment.
    • Ready to share? Check out our FlipGrid to share your results!
  • Plug Loads – For spreadsheet capable students, plug loads helps students to explore how much energy each of their plug-in devices uses, and how consumption aggregates for a room, floow, or even an entire building. The spreadsheet can be edited to fill in any household device, or students can work with the pre-loaded items for a school classroom.
  • Solar Oven Challenge – Students should get a little fresh air during their at-home time. This activity can be completed as written with an empty pizza box, or as a challenge using any materials available!
    • Ready to share? Check out our FlipGrid to share your results!
  • Get Pumped! – Students can explore the challenges of producing oil and natural gas from thousands of feet below the Earth’s surface. Conduct as written, or as a challenge.
  • Wind Can Do Work – Time at home will breeze on by with activities like this one. Students are going to build their own weight-lifting windmill. The activity can be done as prescribed, or as a challenge.

NEED educators use many different types of technology in the classroom. If you’re new to distance learning and using technology for learning, this might all be a challenge for you. Not to fear – some of our NEED Teacher Advisory Board Members and Staff have compiled some links to fun resources that can enhance what students are doing with their time at home. These links should all be previewed and will require some planning and prep work on the part of the educator or the adult.

Energy Lab for Kids bookEnergy Lab for Kids, written by NEED’s very own curriculum director Emily Hawbaker, offers 40 discovery-filled and though-provoking energy projects. Projects in the book use supplies you can easily find around the home or in a grocery store, and let you observe, explore, discover, and get energized!

The lab activities in this book allow students to explore almost everything about energy – what it is, how we find it, how we use it, and how we can save it.

Learn about:

– Chemical, radiant, and thermal energy by activating a glow stick and watching it get brighter in hot water.

– Viscosity, by sucking soda and chocolate syrup up an “oil pipeline” made from straws.

– Solar energy, by melting s’mores in a pizza box solar oven.

– Wind power, by lifting paperclips with a wind turbine made from a cup, paper, tape, and a straw.

– Calories, by burning cheese puffs and other foods in a homemade calorimeter.

Purchase Energy Lab for Kids Here!

Pretty much all of the experiments are performed using materials you would have readily available in your home.

Amazon Buyer

Using this awesome book for homeschooling science labs. Easy-to-find materials, concepts that land well with a range of ages, and I’m learning, too.

Amazon Buyer

Studying energy in our homeschooling, this is a FANTASTIC book! … I could easily see a regular school parent using this to keep their kiddos science mind and thinking skills sharp over a break time.

Amazon Buyer

NEED is collecting a number of fun STEM resources from our partners and beyond to keep your kids busy and learning about energy and science. The links below include everything from a carbon footprint calculator, to award-winning documentaries, to interactive activities. We’ll keep adding to this list. Have a favorite energy-focused site, activity, or video? Share it with us at

  • EIA Energy Kids – More energy lesson plans for teachers to utilize, as well as activities and easy to understand information pages suited for students wanting to learn some of the basics of energy and its role in our society.
  • DOE Energy Videos – An extensive library of videos covering everything energy, such as different types of nuclear reactors, electric vehicles changing transportation, and even 3D printing submarines.
  • Carbon Footprint Calculator – The calculator estimates your footprint in three areas: home energy, transportation, and waste. Everyone’s carbon footprint is different depending on their location, habits, and personal choices.
  • Energy4Me – Learn about energy sources we use everyday, their impact on the environment. Also, take a look at careers in the energy industry if you’re charged up about energy.
  • Switch Energy Alliance – A great source of videos on energy science from experts in the field, energy curricula, and presentations covering the ever-changing energy sector.
    • Switch – SEA’s award-winning documentary explores the world’s leading energy sites and speaks with the international leaders driving energy today.
  • PhET Interactive Simulations – Math and science simulations that engage students through an intuitive, game-like environment where students can learn through exploration and discovery.
  • NASA Climate Kids – Fun, interactive learning and games that teach kids about topics such as how the greenhouse gas effect works, coral bleaching, and offsetting carbon emissions.
  • LUNCHDOODLES With Mo Williams – Learners worldwide can draw, doodle and explore new ways of writing by visiting Mo’s studio virtually once a day at 1PM.
  • Olivia Castellini
    • TED Talk: Adventures in Professional Off-Roading – Olivia Castellini speaks on how following your own skills and interests can seem daunting, but can ultimately lead to a fulfilling and rewarding career you might never have expected.
    • Roadtrip Nation interview – Senior Exhibit Developer for Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry is interviewed by Roadtrip Nation on the path to determining what you want to be next rather than what you want to be when you grow up.
    • Society of Women in Engineering – Speaking with the Society of Women in Engineering on the importance of mentoring in guiding one’s path and the unique value of bringing women mentors and collaborators to the STEM field.
  • Center of Science and Energy (COSI) – COSI’s Digital Doorway for fun, at-home science discovery and learning.
  • U.S. Green Building Council – Offers lessons and activities that are well-suited for distance learning, and ideal for implementing at home, while being academically rigorous and fostering sustainability literacy.
  • Smithsonian Science Education Center – The Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) offers free hands-on STEM activities that use simple materials you can find at home.
  • Cincinnati Zoo Home Safari – Join the Cincinnati Zoo each day at 3pm, where they will highlight one of their amazing animals and include a fun activity that visitors can do from home.
  • Brookfield Zoo Brings the Zoo to You – Each weekday at 11am central time, join the Brookfield Zoo for a live chat with their animal care staff and the animals. Also, each week they will be sharing new “I-Scienced” at-home e-learning resources to build on what you learned in the live chats.