Lesson Plan

Resources and Energy

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Grade Level:
Seventh Grade-Twelfth Grade
History, Science and Technology
One class period (~ 50 minutes)


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



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