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Photo by NASA via Unsplash

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Google Earth


8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Social Studies, Physics, Earth and Space Sciences, Geography

Resource Type

  • Interactive Media

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States, USA - West, USA - South, USA - Midwest, Asia, Europe, Middle East, California, Wyoming, North Dakota, West Virginia

Sources of Energy

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  • This interactive resource takes students on a virtual trip around the world, exploring different sources of energy through satellite imagery, 3-D maps, and images.
  • Students will learn about various energy plants all over the world, different sources of energy and energy generation techniques, the progression of global energy generation over time, and the effects of energy generation on people and the planet.
  • The resource includes information about Germany, California, North Dakota, Wyoming, West Virginia, Haerwusu in China, Canada, Abu Dhabi, Mojave, and Jordan.
Teaching Tips


  • The time-lapse footage shows the physical changes in land areas due to the extraction of different types of fuels.
  • Links to supplemental resources that enhance student knowledge are provided.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should know how to navigate Google Earth.
  • Students should be familiar with energy generation techniques like fracking, mountaintop removal, and coal mining.


  • Teachers could use this resource to facilitate discussions about clean sources of energy that do not require a continuous input of raw materials that must be mined and transported.
  • It could be used as a group activity for students to identify the energy sources that produce no emissions while operating and compare them to the energy sources that produce harmful emissions while operating.
  • Geography or social studies classes could use this resource to research the actual changes in landscapes that occur when using different types of energy and the effects those changes have on communities.
  • To extend the lesson, have students explore this similar resource from Google Earth that shows time lapse videos of other physical changes on the Earth.
  • Science classes could use this as an interactive activity to connect to lessons about thermodynamics, energy, combustion, and electricity.

Scientist Notes
The resource presents real-time data on location of energy sources around the world. Data points are accurate for students to explore to gain insights. Recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
      • HS-ESS3-5 Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.10.9-12 Evaluate how changes in the environmental and cultural characteristics of a place or region influence spatial patterns of trade and land use.
      • D2.Geo.8.9-12 Evaluate the impact of economic activities and political decisions on spatial patterns within and among urban, suburban, and rural regions.
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