Powering the Planet: Renewable Energy

Virtual field trip video, grades 3–8



We use energy to power our lives every day: to boot up our computers, fuel our cars, charge our cell phones, flick on a light switch, and in myriad other ways. Join scientist Alex Wegmann as we embark on a Virtual Field Trip to explore a compelling question: How can we get the energy we need without harming nature? By harnessing renewable sources of energy, such as sunlight and wind, scientists are finding ways to do just that.

On this journey, we’ll visit the Palmyra Atoll, a wildly remote cluster of islands atop coral reefs and teeming with animal life. Scientists there have developed ways to power the entire island almost exclusively through renewable energy sources. We’ll also journey to the scorching Mojave Desert, home to rattlesnakes, tortoises, bats, and coyotes, to check out massive solar panel installations that are working to power large cities. Learn about innovative methods for capturing energy that are safe, sustainable, and can change the destiny of life on our planet.


Teacher's Guide


  • Powering the Planet VFT Standards

Student Handouts

  • Powering the Planet Nature Spy
  • Powering the Planet VFT Log
    PDF Word
  • Powering the Planet Vocab Graphic Organizer
    PDF Word
  • Powering the Planet VFT Discussion Questions
    PDF Word


renewable energy, solar, wind, Mojave Desert, Palmyra Atoll

Published June 2016, updated July 2017