Renewable Energy


Renewable Energy introduces students to energy sources that people can use more than once. Students will learn about some of the characteristics of these sources. They will also discover the advantages and disadvantages of using renewable energy sources.

You can check out the “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page for additional suggestions for ideas and activities to incorporate into the lesson. One idea is to divides students into groups and assign each group a different source of energy to research further. The students can then present what they find to the class.

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What our Renewable Energy lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Renewable Energy is a great lesson that teaches students about the advantages and disadvantages of these types of energy sources. Students will learn about wind, solar, hydro, and other types of power that people can use in place of fossil fuels. They will also learn how each type of energy source works to provide power. This lesson is for students in 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. For this lesson, gather colored pencils, rulers, scratch paper, and drawing paper.

Options for Lesson

You will find several additional ideas and activities to incorporate into the lesson in the “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page. A few have to do with the activity specifically. Students could work alone or in groups rather than in pairs. The could build 3D models of the homes they design. You could require that they use just one or two renewable energy sources rather than three or more. Another option is to assign groups of students one energy source to further research and later present to the class. If possible, another fun idea is to visit a local green-friendly home or business that uses almost all renewable energy. You could also invite an electric utility spokesperson to speak to the class about renewable and non-renewable energy sources. One more idea is to hold a debate during which students argue the use of renewable energy versus non-renewable energy, advantages and disadvantages, and so on.

Teacher Notes

The paragraph on this page gives you a little more information on the lesson overall and describes what you may want to focus your teaching on. It suggests teaching this lesson with others about energy, such as Nuclear Energy or Fossil Fuels. The blank lines are available for you to write out any thoughts or ideas you have as you prepare.


Sources of Energy

The Renewable Energy lesson plan contains four content pages. We need energy for many things. It is, after all, the power we receive by using chemical or physical resources. It is also the strength and vitality we require for sustained mental or physical activity. For the latter, we get our strength and energy from eating plants and animals as food. However, light bulbs, cars, buses, cell phones, or school buildings cannot eat plants and animals to obtain energy. They use energy from non-renewable and renewable sources.

Non-renewable energy sources are those that take millions of years to form but will run out some day. It is energy that comes from fossil fuels such as coal, crude oil, and natural gas. Fossil fuels mainly contain carbon and formed millions of years ago. The good thing about fossil fuels is that they are less expensive to produce, so they cost less money to purchase. However, there’s a downside. Burning fossil fuels causes pollution and has negative effects on the environment. It is also difficult to replace them, hence why we call them non-renewable.

However, renewable energy sources will never run out. They are better for the environment and do not cause pollution. They can sometimes cost a little more money, though. Renewable energy sources include the sun, wind, water, heat from the earth, and biomass (plants). Throughout the world today, in many countries, the use of renewable energy sources is increasing.

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is often called green energy for a few reasons. It is a natural energy, is always available, and does not have to be formed as non-renewable energy does. The green energy is always there. For example, the sun consistently shines, water is abundant, and the winds blow throughout the year. In addition, plants grow and die, and new plants take their places. The heat found deep within the surface of the earth is likewise not going away anytime soon.

Just like non-renewable energy, renewable energy can be converted into electricity that we can store, transport, and use in homes and businesses. There are five types of renewable energy sources that people throughout the world use today: solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and biomass. Solar power is the energy from the sun. Geothermal means the energy from heat within the earth. Hydro refers to energy from water, and biomass refers to energy we can obtain from dead plants and microorganisms.

There are different ways to capture the energy from these renewable energy sources. As with all energy sources, there are advantages and disadvantages to their use.

Solar, Wind, and Geothermal

There are two ways to capture the energy from the sun: actively and passively. Active uses special technology and equipment to use the energy and focus the sunlight in a specific spot, generating electricity. Passive, on the other hand, uses no equipment and simply uses the sunlight as it naturally changes throughout the day. For example, people build houses with windows facing the path of the sun to help heat a house.

Windmills have been used since ancient times to grind grain, power boats, or pump water. Today, wind turbines include tall towers and two or three propeller-like blades at the top that turn by the wind. The blades turn a generator inside the tower to produce electricity. Groups of these turbines are called wind farms that we can find on farm land, in narrow mountain passes, or in the ocean.

The core of the earth is hot—about 9,000°F. The heat is always moving toward the surface. Underground rocks melt into magma and come to the surface as lava. In addition, underground sources of water can shoot out as geysers. We can access these sources using geothermal heat pumps that bring the heat above ground. Then we can use it as energy. In some areas of the world, people can pump steam directly to a power plant, produced by water heated underground.

Hydro, Biomass, and Other Sources

When it comes to hydro power, the water must flow. Hydroelectric power plants are usually located on large dams that control the flow of the water. As dams block a river, they create artificial lakes or reservoirs. Water from the lakes or reservoirs is forced through tunnels. As it flows, it turns huge turbines that then generate electricity. Niagara Falls in New York is an example of a place where hydroelectric energy is produced.

Biomass energy comes from the recently living plants or microorganisms. The energy in plants comes from the sun and is still present when the plants die. Examples include tress, branches, scraps of bark, and recycled paper. It also includes manure, garbage, and some crops. The energy comes from burning the biomass. Some biomass can be converted into biofuels when mixed with regular gasoline.

Other energy sources can include tidal energy, which uses the power of ocean tides to turn a turbine. Wave energy uses waves from oceans, lakes, or rivers using the same principles as a hydroelectric plant. Algal fuel uses chemicals in seaweed to create a clean biofuel. The lesson content ends by asking students to explain which energy source they would want to use most often.


The Renewable Energy lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. These worksheets will help students demonstrate what they learned throughout the lesson and reinforce the lesson concepts. The guide on the classroom procedure page outlines when to hand out each worksheet to your students.


Students will work with a partner for the activity. They will first review the table that shows the advantages and disadvantages of using different types of renewable energy sources. Then they will use the supplies you provide to design a home that uses at least three of these sources. They must do further research on each type of energy source before they start their designs.

The goal is for their home design to be as energy efficient as possible. However, while students can be creative, they should ensure their design is realistic. On their designs, they can include labels, arrows, and other information to help inform others how their home uses these energy systems. When they finish, students will respond tot he prompts regarding each renewable energy source.


The practice worksheet requires students to first identify each of the five types of renewable energy. Then they will match various facts to the correct type. There are 15 descriptions to which they will match energy types.


For the homework assignment, students will first decide which energy source relates to a series of advantages or disadvantages. There are 10 descriptions to match. Next, they will match definitions to the correct term. There are 12 terms in the word bank to match. Finally, they will respond to the prompt at the bottom of the page that asks them to create an easy way to remember the five types of renewable energy.

Worksheet Answer Keys

At the end of the document, there are answer keys for the practice and homework worksheets. The correct answers are in red to make it easier to compare them with your students’ work. The final prompt of the homework assignment will yield varied responses, so keep that in mind as you grade. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information




4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade

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EXCELLENT resource for STEM

My 4th grade students LOVED reading about Renewable Resources and completing the activities! I will ABSOLUTELY be back for more content.

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I really like the lessons that are provided. They allow me to give the students more information on the subjects being presented.

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I haven't actually used the lesson yet, but will soon. That said, I can say that it looks well planned, thorough and logical. It is visually appropriate for a grade 5 class, and includes some simple activities to keep the children's interest. It is not easy to take such a huge topic as Natural Resources and make it make sense in a short lesson. I think you have succeeded!

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Energy lesson

Great resource!