Natural resources are things occurring in nature, like air, water, sunlight, and crops, that can be used to fulfill a need. Some natural resources, like metals, plastics, fossil fuels, and old-growth forests, are non-renewable, meaning they cannot be replaced in our lifetime.
The classroom resource provides a slide show that will identify natural resources and explain how some resources are renewable and non-renewable. There is also a short test that can be used to assess students' understanding.
Renewable fuels are energy resources that can be replaced in a reasonable amount of time. They are sometimes called alternative fuels because they offer an alternative to fossil fuels, which cannot be replaced.
The classroom resource provides a video that will explain how gravity and inertia work together to keep the planets in our solar system revolving around the sun. This resource can provide background information for students before they create their own models. There is also a short test that can be used to assess students' understanding.
Millions of years of heat and pressure turned the fossils of dead plants and animals into deposits of fuel, such as oil, natural gas, and coal. Fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource, and they create pollution, so it is important to conserve them.
The classroom resource provides a slide show that will describe fossil fuels and explain how they are formed. There is also a short test that can be used to assess students' understanding.
Get energized! Start an energy club! Using this interactive, students will compare and contrast renewable and nonrenewable energy, make their own windmill, and discover the answer to the burning question, “What on earth is a nutria?”
For hundreds of years, people have harnessed moving air (wind) to do work. The earliest forms of wind-powered machines were sailboats. Wind pushing against the sails of a boat provided the energy to move the boat across the water, saving people the trouble of rowing. Later, people discovered that if they attached sail-like panels to a wheel at the top of a stationary tower, wind blowing against the panels would cause the wheel and the central shaft to which it was attached to turn. The shaft drove mechanisms inside the tower that were used to mill, or grind, grain into flour. These wind-driven mills were called, simply, windmills. And even though wind-driven machines are now also used to pump water from wells and to generate electricity, the name windmill has stuck.
In this activity, students review the engineering design process and discuss how wind can be used to help get work done. They look at a variety of windmills, focusing on the different materials used in the construction of windmills and the type of work each windmill is designed to do. Finally, they use simple materials to build their own windmills to do work.
This DragonflyTV segment introduces renewable energy engineer Sandra Begay-Campbell, who works to bring alternative energy to remote parts of the Navajo Nation. A Navajo herself, Begay-Campbell works with the U.S. Department of Energy and the Navajo Nation to find energy solutions. This video is also available in Spanish.
This video segment from IdahoPTV's Science Trek defines green energy, renewable and non-renewable energy sources. The pros and cons of each type of energy are discussed. Suggestions about how you can help conserve energy are presented.
In this video from NOVA’s Energy Lab, learn about renewable energy sources and renewable energy technologies. A renewable source of energy is so plentiful that it can be considered limitless. Scientists and engineers are working on alternative energy technologies that make use of renewable energy sources (such as solar, geothermal, and tidal energy) and have less impact on the environment. The sun is our greatest energy resource; solar technologies use its energy directly in the form of light or heat, while other technologies use its energy after it has been converted into another form.
This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.
Learn why it is important to be careful when using non-renewable resources in this video from CYBERCHASE. Students discover that most electricity currently comes from burning gas, oil, and coal, which are all resources that cannot be replaced once they are consumed. Refer to the accompanying discussion questions, renewable energy coloring book from Solar1, and teaching tips for ideas on using this video with students and to help them consider ways to use electricity wisely. Discussion questions and vocabulary terms are available in Spanish in the Support Materials.
For more environmental education resources, visit the Human Impact on the Environment collection.
When scientists use the term energy, there are a variety of definitions, but the commonly taught definition in school science is the capacity to do work. What does this definition mean, and how does it help us think about our human energy systems? This teacher guide is designed to familiarize teachers with both the technical terminology about energy and the energy efficiency and conservation issues that have become so important in recent years.
In this lesson, students will compare and contrast different energy sources and the trade-offs of using them. This lesson is built around an interactive activity in which students choose how to power a city. They will have to choose between various energy sources, taking into account the trade-offs between cost and the environmental impact of each choice.
In this lesson, students will use Internet resources to investigate renewable sources of energy. The students should already have a basic understanding of energy and know several examples of renewable and nonrenewable sources.
Students will use Internet resources to investigate and compare alternative sources of energy. Students will distinguish between renewable and nonrenewable sources of energy. They will also investigate a variety of renewable energy resources and compare the benefits and drawbacks of each. Students will be divided into teams to research and present their findings on one of the following: solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, or hydropower systems.