Unit Overview

In the Elementary Renewable Resources unit, students are led through a progression of three inquiry lessons that focus on the identification of natural resources, comparison of renewable vs. nonrenewable resources, and their use in energy production and transportation. 

  • Lesson 1
    Lesson 1: Solve:  Natural Resource Mystery

    Solve: Natural Resource Mystery

    Students help Mosa Mack solve the mystery of the differences between renewable and nonrenewable resources and complete a vocabulary mind map. By the end of The Solve, students discover that some resources we use are incredibly limited and that many resources negatively impact the Earth. (40-75 mins)

  • Lesson 2
    Lesson 2: Lab:  Investigate Alternative Energy Resources

    Lab: Investigate Alternative Energy Resources

    Students first learn about the depletion of nonrenewable resources and investigate alternative energy sources. Then, after going through a planning process, students draw a visual model to show how to replace renewable resources for nonrenewables as an energy source. (180 mins)

  • Lesson 3
    Lesson 3: Engineer:  Design a Wind-Powered Vehicle

    Engineer: Design a Wind-Powered Vehicle

    Students design and develop a vehicle powered by wind. (160 mins)

  • Next Generation Science Standards
    Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and their uses affect the environment. [Clarification Statement: Examples of renewable energy resources could include wind energy, water behind dams, and sunlight; non renewable energy resources are fossil fuels and fissile materials. Examples of environmental effects could include loss of habitat due to dams, loss of habitat due to surface mining, and air pollution from burning of fossil fuels.]
  • Inquiry Scale
    • Each lesson in the unit has an Inquiry Scale that provides directions on how to implement the lesson at the level that works best for you and your students.
    • “Level 1” is the most teacher-driven, and recommended for students in 4th-5th grades. “Level 4” is the most student-driven, and recommended for students in 7th-8th grades.
    • For differentiation within the same grade or class, use different inquiry levels for different groups of students who may require additional support or an extra challenge.
  • Common Misconceptions
    • Students may believe that water is a constantly available resource. Emphasize that water availability depends on the water cycle, so the rate of renewal can vary.
    • Students tend to believe that it is difficult to have an impact on natural resources as an individual. Spend time thinking about steps that students can take to utilize more renewable resources.
    • Students assume that natural resources are evenly distributed around the world. Emphasize that resources are natural (they come from the Earth itself), so they are distributed unevenly.
    • Students initially think that fossil fuels are not cyclical. Emphasize that the fossil fuel cycle just takes an incredibly long time (hundreds of millions of years), so the reliance on it as a cycle for resources is not sustainable.
    • Learners initially think there are two distinct categories of natural resources: renewable and nonrenewable. Emphasize to students that it is actually a spectrum of how quickly and readily resources can be renewed. Some resources are more renewable than others.
  • Vocabulary
      • Renewable Resource
      • Nonrenewable Resource
      • Fossil Fuel
      • Solar Energy
      • Wind Energy