By: Amanda Good

Feb 24, 2022 | 9 minute read

Renewable Energy Lesson Plans

Renewable Energy Lesson Plans

In the wake of 2021’s IPCC report and COP26, it is more important than ever to teach our students about renewable energy. Whether you are teaching elementary, middle, or high school students, we have renewable energy lesson plans, videos, vocabulary cards, and hands-on activities to get your students thinking about renewables. 

Renewable Energy 101

Grade: 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th

Subjects: Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, Health, Climate Action

Resource Type: Video

Renewable energy is energy collected from renewable sources and is naturally replenished. This energy is derived from the Earth and is not exhaustible. These sources include sunlight, wind, rain tides, waves, and geothermal heat. Renewable sources include biomass energy, hydropower, geothermal power, wind energy, and solar energy. 

This National Geographic video discusses the amount of renewable energy currently being produced, the most common types of renewable energy used, and the challenges associated with different types of renewable energy solutions. Students will observe pie charts, images, and video clips. Further cross-curricular connections can be made with geography classes when discussing the most appropriate places for different types of renewable energy solutions.

How Renewables Work: A Practical Guide to Solar, Wind, and Geothermal

Grade: 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects: Science, Social Studies, Economics, Engineering

Resource Type: Digital Text

It is important to learn about renewable energy due to its critical role in US energy security as well as in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This practical e-book from the Climate Reality Project is great for students and explains how renewables work and why they are important. 

The e-book can be easily downloaded through The Climate Reality Project website; simply fill out the form, submit and get access right away.  This resource also includes videos, presentations, and other teaching materials.

Renewable Energy Unit Plan

Grade: 3rd, 4th, 5th

Subjects: Science, Interdisciplinary, Physical Science

Resource Type: Video, Worksheet, Slideshow, Vocabulary Cards

Introduction to Renewable Energy

In this 45-minute lesson, students will learn about renewable and nonrenewable sources, ways they use energy in their everyday lives, and ways to conserve energy. The first part of our lesson, “Inquire,” features a beautiful, yet practical slideshow. The teacher slideshow is accompanied by graphs, videos, glossary terms, and more. By the end of the lesson, students will be able to state the difference between renewable and nonrenewable resources, classify the types of energy they use in their daily life, and evaluate data about energy in the US. 

The “Investigate” section of the lesson is a free printable cut-and-paste renewable energy activity. Students will sort renewable and nonrenewable resources into each category or draw a line from the energy source to the appropriate column. Next, students will spend the day tracking their energy usage and collecting their data on an energy audit worksheet found in the “Inspire” section of this lesson. Once the data is collected, students will conclude with a reflection and questions to finish the assignment. Finally, curated vocabulary cards can be easily printed or shared with students. They are also a great addition to bulletin boards so that students can refer back to them.

How Can We Conserve Energy? 

The focal point of this 55-minute lesson is for students to understand the importance of energy conservation and how they can positively contribute to conserving energy. Students learn how they can conserve energy through a teacher slideshow that includes students examining their energy audit, making energy footprint bar graphs, and creating a conservation poster. 

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Energy Resources?

In this 55-minute lesson, students are introduced to renewable and nonrenewable energy resources. Students read about an energy resource, complete a graphic organizer, explain to their classmates why their energy resource is the best, and vote for their favorite type of energy. The teaching materials include a teacher slideshow and a student graphic organizer. 

How Does Renewable Energy Work?

In this 70-minute lesson, students will learn how renewable energy works through a story about William Kamkwamba, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.” The next part of the lesson includes building their own renewable-powered project and sharing their project with the broader school community. There are many resources on slide 10 if students would like to know more about William Kamkwamba. 

Renewable Energy Around the World

Students will recall what they learned in previous lessons. They will browse the “Energy Map” in Google Maps to see renewable energy sites around the world. There are also multiple worksheets and interactive media to show the share of electricity production from renewables for countries around the world since 1985. Also, a video outlining how geothermal energy has many uses in Iceland, including electricity generation, heating homes, and growing food in greenhouses. 

How Can We Encourage Our Community to Use More Renewables? 

In this lesson, students advocate for renewable energy in their schools and communitiesTeacher shares the story of Team Marine, a group of youth activists from California who fought to ban plastic bags in their neighborhood. Students choose from a variety of projects to advocate for more renewable energy in their schools and communities. Students can write letters, create videos, write speeches, or choose another way to advocate for a cleaner world! Students follow through with their advocacy by sending letters and videos, delivering speeches, etc. Finally, students reflect on their activism experience.

Making a Solar Oven

Grade: 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects: Science, Physics, Earth and Space Sciences, Engineering, Computer Science & Design Thinking

Resource Type: Project, Lesson Plan

Solar ovens - the perfect STEAM lesson!  This engaging activity from the Department of Energy provides background information about solar ovens and instructions on building a simple model solar cooker. Students of different learning types will benefit from the creative aspect of this activity. 

The PDF activity explains the basics of a solar cooker and goes into detail about how they can be used by people all over the world. Teachers can have students carry out modifications to the provided design and challenge them to optimize their cookers. The end result is that students will learn about solar energy transfer in a unique and creative way!

Electric Vehicles Reading Comprehension

Grade: 3rd, 4th, 5th

Subjects: Science, English Language Arts, Engineering

Resource Type: Lesson Plan

This electric vehicle lesson plan includes a fun class activity that introduces students to the prevalent climate solution of electric cars while practicing their reading comprehension skills. The resource from ClimateScience features a teacher’s guide, student handout and additional sources. The course will reinforce that electric vehicles are helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and are a viable alternative to petrol/diesel vehicles.

Also, the reading comprehension lesson is a great way of creating awareness about the UN Sustainable Development Goals, especially goals 7, 11, and 12. The teacher’s lesson plan contains the answer key to the reading comprehension questions. In developing countries or rural areas, where electric cars are not yet a reality, teachers can ask students to research the challenges of implementing electric cars in their country. Advanced students can research the need for utility-scale renewable energy to power the electric grid that powers the electric vehicles. 

Wind Farm Site Selection: A Community Debates the Issues

Grade: 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects: Science, Social Studies, Economics, Civics, History, English Language Arts

Resource Type: Lesson Plan

In this lesson, students will analyze two op-eds for perspectives on siting local wind farms. The first article is called, “Black Oak Wind Farm Rising,” by Gay Nicholson and the second is, “Blow Back at the Wind,” by Bill Chaisson. 

There are a variety of different objective options including analyzing, reflecting, and citing environmental arguments related to local wind power farms. All of these options can be found on the activity plan provided through the Project Look Sharp resource. 

Climate Heroes Unit

Grade: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects: Art

Resource Type: Video, Worksheet, Slideshow, Vocabulary Cards

This unit encourages students to think about how artists and their art can be used to teach and inspire others about climate change. Many videos are included in the slideshow. Videos include one of Sarah Lewis, an art historian discussing how one person’s artwork can shift things, and a second one featuring “Earthrise,” a poem by Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history. 

There are an additional six videos covering artists and their artwork about climate change. This lesson finishes with great reflection questions and an opportunity for class discussion. This would be a great lesson for teaching the effects of art on the public perception of climate change.

Renewable energy is an important topic for students of all ages to learn about and understand. At SubjectToClimate, we have lesson plans for every age group that will help them learn and understand renewable energy. If you are looking for more lesson plans on renewable energy click here for a curated resource search.