Actions on Renewable & Non-Renewable Resources

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 92 percent of country’s energy comes from nonrenewable sources, like coal and oil (as of 2010). As the supply of these sources comes closer to running out, the need grows for cleaner, renewable sources of energy. Consequently, teaching students of all ages to become more aware of energy sources helps them understand the challenges humanity faces. Such actions can be easily adapted for an existing science and social studies curriculum

Energy Match-Up

This warm-up activity introduces students to the concept of renewable and nonrenewable energy sources. Start by producing two sets of index cards. One set will contain a list of nonrenewable energy sources, like oil and gas, and the other will contain a list of renewable sources, like solar power and wind. As a class, mix up the cards and ask students to separate into nonrenewable and renewable energy sources.

Renewable or Nonrenewable

This activity from the Union of Concerned Scientists helps students to trace their personal energy supply to its source. Start by asking students to make a list of all the ways they use energy in their everyday lives — for example, to power their televisions. Next, group the examples by the energy source used, such as electricity and gas. Students will notice that the majority of their energy comes from nonrenewable sources. Set a homework research activity asking students to investigate how they could redress this imbalance and use cleaner, renewable sources of energy in their daily lives. Answers should include suggestions like installing solar panels at home or getting energy from a local wind farm.

Working With Energy

In this group research activity, students will gain insight into the occupations within the energy industry. Divide the class into four groups — wind, solar, hydroelectric and fossil fuels. Each group will now research the occupations involved in obtaining their particular type of energy. They will explain the type of work involved and list any educational or training requirements needed to work in that profession. For example, wind energy requires qualified metalworkers to make wind turbines and salespeople to sell the energy to consumers. Ensure access to the Internet and other resources to gain the necessary information. When completed, each group will present their findings to the class.

Energy Conservation

This activity teaches students the numerous ways to conserve energy at home and at school. Introduce the idea that conserving energy saves resources and money. Next, brainstorm a list of ways that they can conserve energy, such as using energy-saving light bulbs, turning off appliances when they are not using them and recycling. Students will then produce posters detailing some of these ways to save energy at home and school. Display these posters around school and, if possible, get students to present their ideas to the rest of the school in an assembly. Challenge students to complete five energy-saving actions every day and record them in a log.

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