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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

Energy Conservation Lesson 1: Fossil Fuels and the Ticking Clock

Lesson Description:
Students will:
  • Participate in a simulation that illustrates the dilemma of searching for nonrenewable energy sources
  • Compare the availability and types of renewable and nonrenewable energy sources
  • Investigate their own use of a nonrenewable energy source

Lesson Type:
  • Project

Sustainability Topic:
  • Energy
  • Waste Reduction

GEF Program Category:
  • Green Energy Challenge

Time Needed:
Teacher preparation: 20 minutes class time: two 30-45 minute classes, plus outside time for self-tracking exercise
Standards Addressed:
K-4 Science Content Standard C – Organisms and Their Environments
  • Humans depend on their natural and constructed environments. humans change environments in ways that can be either beneficial or detrimental for themselves and other organisms.

K-4 Science Content Standard D - Properties of Earth Materials
  • Earth materials are solid rocks and soils, water, and the gases of the atmosphere. the varied materials have different physical and chemical properties, which make them useful in different ways, For example, as building materials, as sources of fuel, or for growing the plants we use as food. Earth materials provide many of the resources that humans use. fossils provide evidence about the plants and animals that lived long ago and the nature of the environment at that time.

K-4 Science Content Standard F – Characteristics and Changes in Populations
  • Resources are things that we get from the living and nonliving environment to meet the needs and wants of a population. the supply of many resources is limited. If used, resources can be extended through recycling and decreased use.

K-4 Science Content Standard F– Changes in Environments  
  • Changes in environments can be natural or influenced by humans. some changes are good, some are bad, and some are neither good nor bad. Pollution is a change in the environment that can influence the health, survival, or activities of organisms, including humans. some environmental changes occur slowly, and others occur rapidly. students should understand the different consequences of changing environments in small increments over long periods as compared with changing environments in large increments over short periods.

Math grades 3-5 – Data Analysis and Probability Standard
  • Represent data using tables and graphs such as line plots, bar graphs, and line graphs.

Materials Needed:
  • 200 pennies
  • Piece of coal
  • Toy pinwheel
  • Data sheet
  • 4 three-ounce plastic cups per pair of students
  • Permanent markers
  • Overhead projector, blank transparencies, overhead transparency marker
  • Teacher and/or student resources such as the following web sites:

School or Group:
Alliant Energy Kids
Contact Email:
Located in: Science

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