NEED Distance Learning Resources

NEED will continue to add onto this collection of resources throughout the year. 

A Note from NEED:
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation caused many schools and educational institutions to rethink and restructure the school year. We understand the need for engaging and hands-on ideas for teachers and organizations to use in a distance learning or hybrid teaching environment, and for families to use at home to keep kids thinking, exploring, and inquiring. Below are some of our favorites resources we’ve pulled together for teachers, students, and families to utilize!

NEED curriculum is always available for FREE PDF download or e-publication at

Follow NEED on social media for more updates and sharing of great resources!

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.

When The Bleep Are We Going To Use That!

Educator extraordinaire and NEED TAB member, Robert Griegoliet, works with students and teachers in Illinois and beyond to make the classroom more fun.

  • For those new to Google Classroom, check out his tutorial playlist!
  • Want to use more video instruction that actually engages students? Incorporate EdPuzzle‘s library of videos to engage and assess your students. Learn more here!
  • Check out a great example of his EdPuzzle and video of our Wind Do Work Challenge!


A fun video discussion board tool for students that is great for distance learning. Check here for info on getting started. These awesome Flipgrids are courtesy of NEED TAB member Hallie Mills! Click the links below, and get posting!


A fun tool for gamifying learning at home. Kahoot! tools are available free for educators. Check out their website for more information and to make your own fun quizzes! NEED has premade a few Kahoots that are shareable to use once you have created your free account.

Test your energy knowledge with NEED’s energy knowledge Kahoot!

  • Energy Equations– Put your math skills to work solving equations about energy consumption, energy conservation, generation, and more!
  • Energy Jumble– Word jumbles with an energy twist. Use the clue phrase and letters to solve these energy words. The quicker you solve them, the more points you earn!
  • Top Four– 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 E-Learning & Trade-like Certificates

Have an older student who is bored? Looking for some additional learning for adults in your home? Check out these great mini-courses from NEED’s partner, Pacific Gas & Electric:


Free digital curriculum. Turn a Google Spreadsheet into a set of online flashcards, quiz show, scavenger hunt, board game, and other cool stuff!

NEED made an Energy Source Matching Game  (great for vocabulary review!)

Youtube Logo

NEED Project YouTube Channel

NEED’s YouTube channel includes instructional video lessons of NEED activities!

Current YouTube Channel Highlights

Energy Experiments!

Hosted by NEED teachers and students and uploaded from our Instagram Live sessions. Catch the full video of each hands-on experiment over on our YouTube channel.  These hands-on energy experiments are designed to be simple enough for students to conduct at home with items they likely already have or able to easily obtain.

Mock Wind Turbine Proposal

This video is a mock virtual town hall meeting to discuss the building of wind turbines in a community, and acted out by NEED teachers. The video was originally designed to couple well with “Wind Turbine Point of View”, found in NEED’s Wind for Schools guide. This activity asks students to consider the various stakeholder viewpoints when a community begins to consider siting a wind turbine. The activity and video are a great introductory lesson for students to research wind energy. Use the mock virtual town hall as a great stand-in for holding an in-class debate, or use it as a model for your own. Ask students to identify who they agree and disagree with, and why!

Have you created energy lessons? We’d love to share them on our Teacher Share-a-Thon page! Check out some great video lessons teachers have already created and shared with us here.

Have you used NEED materials? Send us photos, post on social media, and share your ideas.  Send your work to us at info@need.orgor tag us on Twitter (@NEED_Project), Facebook (@NEEDProject), and Instagram (@theneedproject).

Energy Infobooks

  • Energy Infobooks  – NEED’S Energy Infobooks contain a basic intro to everything energy. 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? 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.

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

  • Energy Equations (PDF) – Get competitive solving energy-related equations.
  • Energy Jumble (PDF) – Word jumbles with an energy twist.
  • Energy Pictionary – Test your knowledge of energy, and see how many energy-related words you can get right as your opponent draws them.
  • 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.

Coloring Sheets, Stories, Family Fun, & PowerPoints

  • 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!
  • Cool Coal Story – Students will be able to describe how energy is transformed in coal to create electricity using props!
  • A Nifty Natural Gas Story  – Students will explore the energy transformations associated with a natural gas energy flow – from formation to end use.
  • Energy PowerPoints – NEED has free and editable energy PowerPoints covering the science of energy, each energy source, electricity, & more! Looking for energy graphics to make your own PowerPoint? Check out NEED’s free Graphics Library.

NEED’s library of guides and activities is extensive. The list below contains some teacher and student favorites that can be done at home. If you work with/have younger kids they may need some assistance.

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? Download Energy House (Video Tutorial here).

Energy Games & Icebreakers

NEED’s Energy Games and Icebreakers contains several games students can play at home to learn and reinforce energy knowledge. View the full Energy Games and Icebreakers offerings 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!
    • For digitally savvy students, have them explore Digital Energy and create their own graphics to showcase a topic.
  • Museum of Solid Waste – 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.
  • 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, flow, 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! Video Directions
  • 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.
  • Digital templates for NEED activities 
    Pretzel PowerOil and natural gas are widely used as transportation fuels. Most of our cars run on petroleum. Some vehicles are more efficient than others and allow us to go farther with less fuel while being kind to the environment. This fun kinesthetic learning activity uses pretzels to help students be able to define “miles per gallon” and explain why this rating is important. Find this activity in NEED’s Fossil Fuels to Products guide and Transporation Trio curriculum sampler. We recommend this digital template created by NEED teacher, Rob Griegoliet!
    Road Trip – Energy is required to transport you from place to place. In the United States, the transportation sector consumes 29 percent of total energy supply and is responsible for about one-third of the greenhouse gases emitted each year. This activity has students plan a road trip to think about their fuel consumption as it relates to CO2 emissions. Find this activity in NEED’s Exploring Climate Science guide, Climate Sampler, Oil, Natural Gas, and Their Energy guide, and Transportation Trio sampler. This helpful digital template created by NEED teacher Rob Griegoliet is great!

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.

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

  • NEED’s Helpful Energy Sites Webpage
  • 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.
  • Water Footprint Calculator – What’s your water footprint? Try this Water Footprint Calculator and learn water-saving tips, available in both English and Spanish. Includes free middle and high school standards-aligned lesson plans to help students understand and reduce their water use.
  • 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.
  • Energy Literacy – The NEED Project is pleased to work with BP to create new lessons and pull together activities to expand the impact of in classrooms nationwide. This website is dedicated to helping professional development providers, teachers, and parents instill energy literacy.
  • 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.
  • Google Arts & Culture –  featuring content from over 2,000 leading museums and archives who have partnered with the Google Cultural Institute. Their mission is to preserve and bring the world’s art and culture online so it’s accessible to anyone, anywhere.
  • 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. Including QED with Dr. B as he highlights breakthroughs in scientific discoveries that impact our daily lives.
  • 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.
  • U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon®  virtual webinars.
  • 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.
  • STEM Careers