Resources for PreK-8 Activity 14 – Renewable or Not?

Students often do not know which resources are renewable and which are nonrenewable, or which are recyclable or reusable. In this activity, students will learn what these terms mean and discover why sustainable use of natural resources is so important.

This is one of 96 activities that can be found in PLT’s PreK-8 Environmental Education Activity Guide. To get the activity, attend a training either in person or online and receive PLT’s PreK-8 Guide. Below are some supporting resources for this activity. 

STUDENT PAGES

Download the copyright free student pages that are included with this activity:

Clues and Questions (PDF)

French: Indices et Questions (PDF)

 

Spanish Student Page(s):

Claves y Preguntas (PDF)

FAMILY ACTIVITY

Try a simple variation of this activity to engage children in the outdoors at home. Download this fun and easy-to-do family activity.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Every month we carefully select new tools and resources that enhance PLT’s lessons. These include educational apps, videos, posters, interactive websites, careers information, and teacher-generated materials. Browse a chronological listing below:

  • EnergyKids

    Developed by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, EnergyKids provides a wide range of articles and resources about energy. Students can explore energy sources, ways to use and save energy and the history of energy with games and activities that promote learning. Challenge your students with energy-related Suduko, puzzles, crossword puzzles, and word searches!

  • Challenge Your Eco-Footprint

    BillerudKorsnäs, a renewable packaging material organization that specializes in creating sustainable packaging solutions, created this interactive resource titled Challenge your eco-footprint. It helps people understand the differences between types of waste and recyclable materials and how long they remain in the environment. Displayed in the resource is a digital representation of how long it takes for waste items to decompose. Use this resource to help raise awareness of the importance of recycling and help your students assess environmental impact.

  • Natural Resource Mapping

    National Geographic’s Reading a Resource Map helps students in grades 2-4 investigate the origins of goods that people use. Use it to engage students on the topic of renewable and non-renewable resources and create a map identifying where they come from. Students will learn more about the types of goods and products that come from natural resources. They’ll also develop skills in reading and interpreting maps and apply that to learn more about the natural resources in their state.

  • Generate: The Game of Energy Choices

    Generate: The Game of Energy Choices is a board game from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that teaches students about the costs and benefits of the energy choices we make; what happens if the mix of energy sources changes in the future; and what energy choices mean for our climate, air, water, and overall environmental quality. Teachers can download a printable version of the game and accompanying materials.

  • Nature Works

    Did you know that nature works to power the things you depend on every day such as your smartphone, refrigerator, and more! Thanks to energy from the earth we can power all these things. This 5-minute video from PBS Learning Media, Nature Works – To Make Clean Energy discusses sustainable energy sources. It also explains how sustainable energy sources support the environment and minimize harm. Learn more about the benefits of renewable technologies of energy with this video.

  • The Adventure of Water from Afar

    Go on an adventure to learn more about innovations being made to protect and manage clean water! Produced by EarthEcho International, the video Water By Design: Water from Afar investigates reservoirs of water and the technology employed to measure and maintain it. One example examines how NASA uses innovative technology to measure snow and represent the availability of fresh water that comes from snow melts. Check out the video to learn even more about how water is stored, filtered, and brought to your home. EarthEcho’s Educator Resources are a collection of videos, lesson plans, and other materials designed to support high-quality classroom experiences and assist educators as they equip young people to explore and protect their local natural resources.  

  • Top Ten Things You Didn’t Know About… Wind Power

    Developed as part of Energy.gov’s informational “Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About…” online series, Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Wind Power presents facts and resources describing the growth, development, current status, and future potential of the wind power industry. Most appropriate for middle and high school levels (grades 5-12), the educational resources include diagrams showing how a wind turbine functions, as well as extensive wind maps from the US Department of Energy.

  • Desmos Graphing Calculator

    Desmos creates digital math tools, such as this online graphing calculator that students can use for free. They also create activities and their Activity Builder helps teachers create digital math activities. The online calculator has many uses in science and math settings, from graphing functions, plotting tables of data, and evaluating equations, to exploring transformations and more. It is also available as a smartphone app. Read the Desmos blog for tips and ideas for using the calculator in the classroom. 

  • Fresh Solutions: Water Use and Conservation

    Videos from California Academy of Sciences explore today’s environmental issues related to water use, from water shortage to waste water recycling. Intended for middle school students, these short videos come with background information for better understanding. You can extend the concepts covered by facilitating a student-led discussion or making connections to the Next Generation Science Standards.

  • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in Low-Income Communities

    Investing in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and climate protection programs is an important way for state and local governments to provide a variety of benefits to low-income communities, including energy cost savings, job creation, improved air quality, and healthier homes. EPA’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in Low-Income Communities guide helps state and local staff connect with local and national initiatives that can assist them in expanding or developing their own EE and climate initiatives in ways that benefit low-income communities.

  • Where Does Our Trash Go?

    The lifecycle of garbage is illustrated through photos and simple captions from the Lawrence County Solid Waste Management District (IN).

  • U.S. Department of Energy Multimedia

    This U.S. Department of Energy website provides links to animations, videos, and audio files on energy sources, with a focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy.Energy Guides for SchoolsAdvanced Energy Design Guide for K–12 School BuildingsThe website of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers provides guidelines and approaches for achieving advanced levels of energy savings.

  • Carbon Cycle Activity

    Carbon Cycle Activity (similar to “Water Wonders” Water Cycle activity) developed by Carlyn Nichols, PLT educator in Seward, Alaska. Helps relate the carbon cycle to climate change.

  • Climate Change around the World

    An article in BBC News that discusses impacts of global warming in countries around the world and in major sectors of society: health, water, food, ecosystems, coasts, and industry.

  • How Do Solar Panels Work?

    In this digital interactive from the Public Broadcasting Service’s (PBS) NOVA Education, users see how solar panels work to convert sunlight into electricity. Links to related PBS NOVA videos and programs are also included.

  • Teaching the Food System

    Resources from The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future introduces students to food-system topics and issues. Explore questions such as: What are the strengths and weaknesses of local food systems? How is our food supply dependent on ecosystems? Find slides, handouts, and other supplemental materials on their Teaching the Food System website.

  • Mineral Related Resources

    Free materials on mining and minerals for educators are available from the Mineral Information Institute. They include a PowerPoint presentation “The Importance of Minerals and Mining,” classroom demonstration ideas, one-page activities, and more.

  • Planet Protectors Club for Kids

    As a Planet Protector, your mission is to improve the world around you by making less trash. Planet Protectors also help others learn to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Targeted for K-5 students, this website features interactive games and activity booklets for informing students about reducing waste and conserving resources, as well as helping them understand the connection between trash and climate change. Booklets are available in Spanish andEnglish.

  • ThinkGreen

    Sponsored by Waste Management and Discovery Education, this website contains k-12 lessons, videos and interactive tools to help students rethink what they know about waste. The site also provides downloadable posters promoting recycling ideas.

  • How Do Solar Panels Work?

    In this digital interactive from the Public Broadcasting Service’s (PBS) NOVA Education, users see how solar panels work to convert sunlight into electricity. Links to related PBS NOVA videos and programs are also included.

  • US EPA Wastes Website

    US EPA Wastes Website is divided into four sections – What You Can Do, Resource Conservation, Hazardous Waste, and Nonhazardous Waste – this EPA website contains information to spark classroom conversations about waste.  For example, What You Can Do has categorized resources to help consumers generate less waste in the home, in the community, at the office, in industry, and at the store.  In Your Home tells how to make environmentally friendly choices at home by “green scaping” yards and gardens and properly discarding household medical waste, electronics, used motor oil, and more.

  • EPA Tools

    EPA tools let computer users “see” air quality information on a virtual globe:

  • 30 Questions

    Looking for questions to evaluate your students’ awareness of the world in which you live?  Here are 30 Questions to help get you started.  

  • Energy Lab

    This PBS NOVA series has launched the Energy Lab, where middle and high school students can design renewable energy systems for cities nationwide and compete with other students nationwide. Visit the Energy Lab website to design your own renewable energy system.

  • TeslaTown

    Designed for upper elementary and middle school students, a free iPad app teaches about electricity generation and delivery thorough visits to a solar-powered house, a hydroelectric power plant, and a wind farm. With clickable, interactive structures and informational graphics and photos, students discover what is meant by “the power grid.”

  • A Green Take on A Christmas Carol

    Earth Day Carol is a green retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. In this version, Plastic Bottle Scrooge is visited by the ghosts Plastic Past, Plastic Present, and Plastic Future. You can download the free mobile app to convey the message of “reduce, reuse, and recycle” through animation, pop-up facts, and kid-friendly narration. Most appropriate for elementary and middle school students, this story can be a starting point for taking environmental action.

  • Check Your School’s Climate Impact

    High school students can investigate the link between greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, and everyday actions at their high school. Using EPA’s Climate Change Emission Calculator Kit (Climate CHECK) students can learn about climate change, estimate their school’s greenhouse gas emissions and conceptualize ways to mitigate their school’s climate impact.  Students gain understandings of climate-change drivers, impacts, and science; produce an emission inventory and action plan, and can even submit the results of their emission inventory to their school district. You can compare the energy use of your school with other schools nationwide, and earn the ENERGY STAR for your school if it qualifies as a top performer.

  • Plant for the Planet Video

    Inspired by Wangari Maathai, 9-year-old Felix Finkbeiner founded “Plant for the Planet” and has planted more than 500,000 trees in Germany which he says will help sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Watch Felix’s video, part of the Young Voices on Climate Change series, to learn about his efforts to plant trees for a healthier world.

  • Wind Power Information

    At www.windturbines.net , visitors can join a community of wind energy professionals and access facts, maps, information, videos, and news stories about the use of wind technology worldwide.  Check out this popular video, which describes a propeller-free turbine design that can be used in residential homes

  • Renewable Energy Documentary: Unlimited

    Unlimited, a documentary by OneLight OneCamera Productions about renewable energy, highlights a group of passionate sixth-graders who call on adults everywhere to take action and address global warming. Their voices are supported with those of global warming and energy experts, who discuss upcoming and promising technologies like solar, wind, tidal power, and more. To purchase a copy of the 25-minute film, email OneLightOneCamera@gmail.com or check it out on YouTube for free.

  • Energy Quest

    Energy Quest is an effort by the California Energy Commission to provide resources to teachers and students all about energy: its different forms, how it is generated, its sources and how to protect and conserve it. The Energy Quest website is arranged in easy-to-use tabs that lead to a rich, comprehensive supply of teaching material. The website’s interactive interface is useful and educational to both teachers and students alike.

  • Energy4me

    Explore energy and its related concepts with resources from The Society of Petroleum Engineers’ Energy4me program. Compare energy sources, request or download a copy of the book Oil and Natural Gas, explore current energy challenges, and more.

  • Energy Literacy Videos from DOE

    Energy is an abstract and important concept that concerns all things on earth and plays a role in many natural and social science processes. Uncover the power of understanding energy by watching the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Seven Principles of Energy Literacy video series. This series breaks down key information about energy’s functions including flow, amount, and quality, in addition to looking at how quality of life, economics, politics, and environment are affected by how we create and utilize energy. 

  • Energy Zones Mapping Tool

    The Energy Zones Mapping Tool is a free online database that allows users to map existing and potential energy resources in the 39 easternmost states. Users can run site-suitability analyses for a variety of renewable energy sources, including biomass, solar, water, wind, natural gas, geothermal, and nuclear power. Regional, custom maps of existing energy resources and environmental characteristics that impact energy development can also be created using overlapping and interactive layers. This tool is hosted by the Eastern Interconnection States’ Planning Council (EISPC), among other project partners. 

  • Sustainability in Bioenergy: A Nation Connected

    This informative documentary, Sustainability in Bioenergy: A Nation Connected, produced by the US Department of Energy, highlights ongoing efforts in communities nationwide to develop, produce, and provide bioenergy. From farmers and families in the Midwest to researchers and business owners on the coasts, the video provides firsthand views and personal stories describing bioenergy-related projects and how they work to create new jobs and lessen humans’ impact on the environment. 

  • The Boom – Text on Fracking

    Are you looking for support in investigating fracking and other energy issues with high school students? Russell Gold, senior energy reporter for the Wall Street Journal, chronicles the history and rise of the fracking industry in his 2014 book, The Boom. This informational text delves into the pros and cons of the controversial energy extraction technique while offering various perspectives on the subject.  An accompanying Classroom Guide offers critical thinking questions that are an essential learning tool for students.

  • An Animated Guide to the Science of Wind Turbines

    Have you ever wondered what keeps the massive propellers of today’s wind turbines in motion? Check out this animated infographic from SaveOnEnergy to learn how wind turbines work. While the science behind wind powered turbines may seem modern day, the concept has been around for millennia. Its predecessor, the simple windmill, can be traced as far back as 200 B.C. when it was used for farm work, such as grinding grain and drawing water. 

  • Recycle City

    EPA’s Recycle City’s interactive website showcases an interactive map, scavenger hunt, and game that all explore ways homes and businesses can recycle, reuse, or reduce waste. Use this website to spark interesting discussions around waste and recycling in places and spaces where students can have direct impacts.

  • Rooted in Math

    Use this Rooted in Math infographic from NEEF to make some quick calculations, such as the number of gallons of water you use every time you take a shower, or the pounds of CO2 emissions by a lightbulb.