MnSTEP Teaching Activity Collection > MnSTEP Activities > Alternative Energy Debate

Alternative Energy Debate

Erin Johnson
Lakeview Elementary
Albert Lea MN
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With a learning team, students choose an alternative energy source such as solar, wind, biofuel, geothermal or other form and research the pros and cons of that energy type.

The team then splits into debate teams and draws straws to determine whether they are on the "pro" or "con" side. They will debate in front of the class allowing others in the class to learn about both sides.

Learning Goals

This activity is designed to have students practice working as a team and analyze pros and cons of the their energy source. Other skills students will use are research skills, organizing information, and oral presentation in the form of a debate.

Context for Use

This is an intermediate level activity. Students should be allowed to choose an energy source of interest to them. They would need research skills such as finding resources and using the internet to find information. Several class sessions will be needed to allow students time to find, organize, and present their information. They would also need team-work skills.

Subject: Geoscience, Environmental Science:Energy, Environmental Science
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

Begin with a discussion of global warming. Ask students what they information they already have. Show "Power Up: Energy in our environment (available on United Streaming) to help students think about alternative energy sources. Allow students to choose an energy source of interest to them. Group teams according to interest. After students have had several work sessions to research and organize their information, have them draw straws to find what side of the debate they will argue. Students will debate in front of the class in order to give everyone an opportunity to hear about the different energy sources.

Teaching Notes and Tips

Modeling a debate may be necessary.


Students will be required to turn in their debate notes. Observation of the debate will determine whether or not students were aware of the impact of their energy source on the environment.


Strand: Earth and Space Science
Sub-Strand: Earth Structure and Processes
Standard: The student will investigate the impact humans have on the environment: Benchmark: The student will identify and research and environmental issue and evaluate its impact.

References and Resources