MnSTEP Teaching Activity Collection > MnSTEP Activities > Alternative Energy Resources

Alternative Energy Resources

Jean Emmons, Cottage Grove Junior High, Cottage Grove, MN, based on an original activity from San Diego State Webquest website
Author Profile


Society is beginning to recognize the limited supply of fossil fuels. In this project, students will investigate alternative energy sources. Conservation of resources is discussed and while conservation is an important step, at some point in the not-so-distant future we realize that we may deplete our supplies of fossil fuels and will be forced to rely completely on alternative energy sources. Students will become experts on one alternative renewable resource. The choices may not be limited to solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, biomass, hydrogen fuel cells, and nuclear power. Students are encouraged to present other ideas, if possible.

The student will work with a team of four people to complete this task. Each person on the team will take on a role, and have the responsibilities that go along with that role. The team will present their material by giving an oral presentation with 2 to 3 minutes of information from each member of the group. This will be accompanied by a poster or portfolio that includes pictures of how the energy source is used.

Learning Goals

This activity is designed to introduce students to the resources that provide energy for society. Students will define renewable and non-renewable, and then debate the pros and cons of the energy resources in both categories. Students will work together in a group of 4. They will cooperatively present a summary to the class.

Context for Use

This cooperative activity can be altered for any age group. The concentration should begin on the resources that are being used currently in the school's area and what will happen when those resources are no longer available. The Internet is used for researching alternative energy sources. After an introduction to Earth's resources, approximately 5 periods should be devoted to this project: planning (1), researching (2), and presenting and discussing results (3).

Subject: Geoscience, Environmental Science:Energy
Resource Type: Activities:Classroom Activity
Grade Level: Middle (6-8)
Theme: Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:K12, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Environmental Science

Description and Teaching Materials

I used this activity to involve 8th graders in thinking about where energy comes from and how much it means to them. We had previously studied rocks and minerals. The textbook then continued with a brief chapter on the Earth's resources. I wanted the students to find and share more information on alternative ways to make their lives as comfortable as they are now. I created the groups and the students picked their roles ( historian/sociologist, scientist, environmentalist or economist). They then determined the best way to research and present their material. The presentations were followed by question and answer sessions that produced some very lively discussions on the energy situation of the world and our role in the future.

I adapted this from a webquest that I found on the San Diego University Webquest Website. The link is now inactive.

Role descriptions (Microsoft Word 27kB May20 11) Letter describing need of project (Microsoft Word 33kB May20 11)

Teaching Notes and Tips

The resources on the Internet are expansive. If a teacher has the ability to limit the search, that may be wise.


I graded the students on their participation in both research and presentation and each group member also graded each other. The students either presented the information on a poster or in a portfolio, which were then displayed around the room.


8 III, A 1 - Identify and research an environmental issue and evaluate its impact.
8 I, C 1 - Credibility of valididty of scientific and technological information frorm various sources.

References and Resources