David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.
What Are Material Resources?
You're walking through a forest, marveling at the beauty of the trees. Suddenly, you decide it might be nice to build a house here. You realize that if you cut down a few of the trees, you can both clear space and use the logs to build the house at the same time. You've just realized that a material (wood) can be used as a valuable resource.
Or, let's say you come home from the beach one day, and you accidentally drop some sand from your shoe into a hot oven. The oven is so hot that the sand melts, and when it hardens, you find a piece of clear glass. Suddenly you get excited and collect more glass so that you can have enough to build a window. You've realized that another material (sand) can be used as a resource.
Material resources are materials found in nature that can be used for practical, human purposes that are considered to have value. You can sell houses, and you can sell glass windows, so both of these things certainly have a value in money. But as long as humans think an item has some value, it's a material resource. There are many material resources, including wood from trees, edible plants that can be used as food, sand to make glass, metals extracted out of rocks, and chemicals from plants that can be turned into plastics.
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Uses of Material Resources
Material resources have countless uses; we are surrounded by them every moment of our lives. We use wood from trees to build the support framing for houses, as well as to build furniture, kitchen cabinets, flooring, and outside decks. We eat edible plants in the form of leaves, fruit, and vegetables. We use glass for windows, television screens, drinking glasses, eye glasses, and car windshields. We use metals for car bodies, tin cans, appliances, utensils, faucets, piping, and in electrical wires. And, perhaps the most ubiquitous materials in modern life are plastics. We use plastics to make sandwich bags, plastic bottles, toys, casing for appliances and electronics, storage boxes, and countless other things. Most products that surround us daily use a mixture of all these resources, using each material based on their strengths and advantages: metals are strong, plastics are light and durable, wood is solid but attractive, glass is transparent, and plants can provide nutrition.
Renewable vs. Nonrenewable
Material resources can also be separated into renewable and nonrenewable resources. Renewable material resources are material resources that can be re-created easily or are sustainable. There is some disagreement about how easy this process must be, but in general, things that are easily recycled are renewable. Plastics and glass, for example, can be reshaped and remolded. On the other hand, fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal are certainly not renewable, since they take millions of years to produce.
Material resources are materials found in the natural world that have practical use and value for humans. Material resources include wood, glass (which comes from sand), metals, edible plants, and plastics (which are made from natural chemicals). Renewable material resources, like glass, can be re-created easily.
Every object humans have made is built from one or more of these resources. We can use the properties of each material to achieve a purpose. Cars are made of metal because metals are strong. Windows are made from glass because glass is transparent. And, toys are made from plastic because plastic is light and durable. By understanding the material resources around us, we can create all kinds of things.
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Material Resources: Definition & Uses
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