Last updated: August 25, 2015
Teacher Reference Materials
Resources and Energy
- Grade Level:
- Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Teachers can use these worksheet templates to help students understand resource and energy use. One worksheet provides a Venn diagram template with U.S. Energy Consumption source graph, and another worksheet provides a chart template for students to record information on different types of energy sources. There is also an energy research project assignment with rubric.
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, aresource 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.