In this lesson, students are introduced to biomass energy and use algebra to calculate the amount of land needed to produce biofuel using different plants.
Step 1 - Inquire: Students watch a video on biofuels and discuss how biofuels are similar to or different from other renewable energy sources.
Step 2 - Investigate: Students complete real-world math problems that compare the amount of land needed for various biofuel crops.
Step 3 - Inspire: Students explore the current use of biomass in their region using this map and discuss potential benefits and drawbacks to increasing biomass energy in their community.
Positives
Students have opportunities to think critically about the topic of renewable energy in their community.
Students have the chance to use math in a real-world application, which makes it more relevant and engaging.
Additional Prerequisites
This is lesson 4 of 5 in our 6th-8th grade Renewable Energy Algebra unit.
This lesson could be used as a standalone lesson if desired.
Differentiation
Teachers can have students work with a partner on the calculations in the Investigate section and purposefully group students based on skill level.
Teachers can work in a small group with students who may need additional assistance with the calculations.
Teachers can limit the number of questions students complete. Questions get progressively more difficult on the Student Document.
This lesson introduces students to biofuels and how they are sourced, including the supply chain. It does not only equip them to compute the acres of land needed to grow crops to produce biofuels but allows them to compare biofuels with other renewable energy sources, including the benefits and limitation to scale up. All the materials have been fact-checked, and they are suitable to build students' knowledge on the topic. Hence, this lesson has passed our science credibility process.
This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.
Students think-pair-share to answer the following questions:
What are some alternatives to gas-powered cars?
Have you heard of biofuel before? What do you know about it?
Students watch this video about biofuels.
Students share with a partner one new thing they learned about biofuels.
Students think-pair-share to answer the following questions:
How is biofuel similar to other renewable energy sources we have looked at?
How is biofuel different from other renewable energy sources we have looked at?
Teacher introduces the vocabulary words that will be necessary for the rest of the lesson.
Students complete the Student Document that guides them through calculations related to biofuels.
Students can work independently and then compare their work with a partner.
Teacher should check in after students complete the first question to make sure all students have the correct answer before moving on since the questions all build from the first answer.
Students explore the map showing biomass energy and infrastructure.
Students zoom into their region and identify the biomass resources available to their community.
Students discuss the following questions:
Does your community have access to biomass resources?
Why do you think your community does or does not have access to biomass resources?
What do you think are some benefits to using biomass energy?
What do you think are some drawbacks to using biomass energy?
Do you think your community should increase biomass energy use? Why or why not?
What might be some more efficient uses of the land instead of growing crops for biofuel?
Based on what you’ve learned in the last four lessons, how do you feel about renewable energy use?
Students complete a short 2-question exit ticket, which teachers can use to assess learning.
Students can watch this optional extension video that looks at issues with using biofuel at a large scale. Teachers can use the following discussion questions with the video:
What prevents biofuel from being a practical and widely used energy source?
How have innovations in biofuel helped bring us closer to large-scale use?
Do you think biofuels are still a promising climate change solution? Why?