Lesson Plan

Resources and Energy


Explore resources, different sources of energy, and brainstorm ways to reduce our consumption.


Given a discussion on resources and consumption, students will be able to distinguish between renewable and nonrenewable, identify the role of a cultural resource, define sustainability, and list ways they can reduce their own resource consumption.


A resource is a source or supply from which benefit is produced. The key word here is “benefit.” Benefit can mean an economic gain, a biological obligation, or of a spiritual value to name a few. Benefit is very subjective and can be defined in many ways; the variety of definitions from students should highlight this.

The difference between a nonrenewable resource and one that is renewable is time. Time is also subjective, but here we draw the line at a human timescale (seconds, hours, decades), rather than a geologic time scale (millions of years, billions of years). To be classified as renewable, a resource needs to be replenished through biological reproduction or other naturally recurring processes. A nonrenewable resource is one that cannot be replenished at a sufficient rate for human consumption or use. It is important to note that a traditionally renewable resource can be used at such a rate that would render it nonrenewable. The rate of consumption would then be unsustainable and would put the future of that resource at risk.

Sustainability is a watershed word in environmental science. Sustainability is the capacity to endure ; the ability to sustain literally. When applied to resources, sustainability refers to the rate of consumption being at or below levels of replenishment.

Energy is defined as the ability to do work. Our energy is largely derived from our natural resources, renewable and nonrenewable alike. The increasing consumption of these resources is becoming a problem as the population increases and world living standards rise. Americans consume 26% of the world's energy, despite having only roughly 4.5% of the world's population; the average American consumes 40 times the resources as a citizen from a 3rd world or developing country.


Resources and Energy - Worksheet

Energy Research Project 

Energy Chart


Anticipatory Set – Pair Share – Students work with a partner to define the term resource. Discuss the different aspects of definitions and highlight the commonalities. Invite the students to compare looking at the term from a human perspective vs looking at the term from a biological perspective.
Input – Venn Diagram – Discuss with students the two categories: renewable and nonrenewable. Students work individually (or differentiate with partners) to complete the Venn diagram comparing renewable and nonrenewable resources. Facilitate discussion on key differences and similarities between the terms. Optional: As a twist ask students to categorize cultural and historical resources into either renewable or nonrenewable. Complete the sentence stems as a class.
Guided Practice – Identification – Students work in pairs to distinguish between examples of renewable and nonrenewable resources. Review with class the major sources of energy using the diagram U.S. Energy Consumption by Energy Source, 2010 (on worksheet).
Independent Practice – Writing Prompt – Students work individually to complete a writing statement of differentiated length and detail. Students brainstorm 7 different ways they can reduce their overall energy consumption.


This lesson is designed as a formative assessment. Teacher will evaluate responses during discussion, detail of Venn diagrams, accuracy of example identification, and depth of understanding in written response. Based on quality of proving behavior, teacher will reteach or progress.

Park Connections

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is full of cultural, historical, renewable and nonrenewable resources. Education about how conserve and preserve them is essential.


Extend - Assign students a Gallery Walk, Jigsaw or Group Presentations with the major renewable and nonrenewable resources: solar, wind, geothermal, coal, nuclear, biofuels, hydroelectric, hydrogen, oil, natural gas, tar sands, oil shale, tidal. Use Energy Chart for students to take notes during activity.

Carbon Footprint Calculator