In this 2-3 day lesson, students begin by brainstorms sources of renewable and nonrenewable energy, and then are tasked with researching information on each source of energy related to a specific question. They are given time in- and out-of-class to read and summarize before presenting their findings to the class. Then, as a class they discuss and evaluate the pros and cons of the various energy sources.
Sources for these materials can be found at: Energy Sources and Systems
As students enter the classroom, have the following prompt on the board
"Where does the energy we use come from?"
Have them brainstorm a list of sources. There are about 10 sources as follows:
*Many students may not think of these. I push their thinking by giving hints.
If you have already taught a lesson on energy type and forms, then ask the students to identify which of these are potential and which are kinetic.
Ask students how we convert these sources into usable energy. They may/may not know how some of these sources are converted. So park those idea for now as they will be researched later.
Now that the class has identified different energy sources, let them know (1) that we want to know more about each one and (2) that you want their help pulling together information on each source in response to a specific question.
Give students a copy of the the Activity: Energy Sources Research Sheet and review the directions. Explain the expectations.
You may either assign a question (that is what I do) or let them choose. One question per group. I make the information sheets available on my class website so that I am not running off a ton of copies for each class.
Give them time to ask clarifying questions, then get out computers and get to work. You may opt to give them two days for this or assign the rest for homework.
On day two, or three, have each group of students prepare a one page handout summarizing their findings including a handout with the information they researched.
They should include the most important or interesting facts and the information their decision is based on for each energy source.
Have each group present their handout to the class.
Discuss the pros and cons as a class and decide which ones are most feasible for a home.
This usually leads to discussion on how the benefits of renewable energy outweigh the costs of nonrenewable ones. I lay the ground work for my next unit of lessons on designing, building and testing wind turbine blades.
This lesson is another example of how to use Science Practice 8.