Energy Unit Plan

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

You can improve the analytical skills and cooperative abilities of your high school students with this unit plan, as you teach about both renewable and nonrenewable sources of energy.


Einstein himself once said 'everything is energy and that's all there is to it.' We need energy to cool and heat our homes, power our vehicles, and run our cellphones. We also need it to maintain our food and water supplies. We mostly use nonrenewable energy, but as these sources will one day be depleted, the future is in nonrenewable sources. By teaching about energy, your students will understand how it is obtained, why it is of such import, and ways to obtain energy and still protect the environment.

Getting started

A great way to start this unit is an overview of the basics. This lesson plan is a good place to start. Renewable & Nonrenewable Resources Lesson Plan

Although nuclear energy is considered a climate friendly form of energy, it has other serious risks. Use this lesson to ground students on how nuclear energy works and the risks involved. Nuclear Power Lesson Plan.

Step I Renewable Energy

What is renewable energy?

Step II Nonrenewable Energy

What is non-renewable energy?

Fossil fuels took many millions of years to form, and we will eventually run out of the supply. Use these lesson plans to help students understand past and current non-renewable energy sources.

Step III The Future of Energy

Finding alternative and renewable forms of energy is important to the health of this entire planet. Climate change is an important driver of the need for new and better energy sources. Use these lessons to help students understand the need for innovation and change in our energy production and use.

  • The Climate Change Lesson Plan will help students understand why climate change is a call for change.
  • The Energy Crisis of 1973 affected people across the globe. The Energy Crisis Lesson Plan is a good reference source to review what happened during this energy crisis as this might help students to understand the need for change. Take a look back to help students look forward to more sustainable energy resources.

Step IV Activities

In addition to reading books, hands-on activities and projects will help students integrate key vocabulary and concepts and incorporate some fun in this unit study.

Discussion Questions

Here are some discussion questions you may want to use throughout the unit study, or pause here and have a class discussion to help gauge understanding.

  • Can you name several types of renewable and nonrenewable energy?
  • How would you compare and contrast renewable and nonrenewable energy?
  • What are some advantages and disadvantages of each type of energy?
  • Which source of energy causes the most pollution? Which causes the least?
  • Which source is the most expensive? Which is the least?
  • Which source is the most dangerous to people and the environment? Which is the safest?
  • Which source produces the most waste, and which produces the least waste?
  • Which source is the most efficient, and which is the least efficient?

As an option, you can create two renewable and nonrenewable energy handouts, for your students to compare and contrast in small groups.

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