Work in Progress
Please pardon our progress while we refine the look and functionality of our new ALEX site! You can still access the old ALEX site at If you would like to share feedback or have a question for the ALEX Team, you can use the contact form here, or email us directly at

AAS.SC15.ES.1 Distinguish between common renewable (e.g., solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal) and nonrenewable (fossil fuels, nuclear, natural gas) energy sources.

Unpacked Content

Scientific and Engineering Practices

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Crosscutting Concepts

Cause and Effect


Students know:
  • Examples of renewable energy sources and nonrenewable energy sources, and the uses of each.
  • The origin of different types of nonrenewable energy sources.
  • How various types of renewable and nonrenewable energy sources are harvested, how harvesting may impact the surrounding environment, and how to reduce any negative impacts of harvesting these resources.
  • How various types of renewable and nonrenewable energy sources are used, how using them may impact the environment, and how to reduce any negative impacts of using these resources.
  • The sustainability of human societies and environmental biodiversity require responsible management of natural resources, including renewable and nonrenewable energy sources.


Students are able to:
  • Identify various types of energy resources.
  • Explain how various nonrenewable and renewable resources are used to provide energy.
  • Analyze geographical data to ascertain resource availability and sustainability.
  • Evaluate environmental strategies that promote energy resource sustainability.
  • Design and/or refine a solution to mitigate negative impacts of using nonrenewable and renewable energy sources, or evaluate available design solutions based on scientific principles, empirical evidence, and logical arguments.


Students understand that:
  • All forms of energy production and resource extraction have associated economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical benefits as well as costs and risks.
  • Scientific knowledge indicates what can happen in natural systems, not what should happen. What should happen involves ethics, values, and human decisions about the use of existing knowledge.
  • Environmental feedback, whether negative or positive, can stabilize or destabilize a system.
  • It is important to consider a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, and to take into account social, cultural, and environmental impacts when developing and/or evaluating solutions.


  • renewable resource
  • nonrenewable resource
  • consumption rate
  • sustainability
  • environmental policy
  • conservation (Law of Conservation of Energy)
  • 3 R's = reduce, reuse, recycle
  • fossil fuels
  • pollution
  • energy efficiency
  • resource extraction and harnessing
  • alternative energy
  • waste
  • mining
  • reclamation
  • remediation
  • mitigation
  • biomass
  • hydroelectric
  • geothermal
  • nuclear energy
  • natural gas
  • wind turbine
  • solar power
  • hybrid
  • hydrogen fuel cell