Lesson Four: The Development and Use of Energy Resources

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Grade Level:

4th Grade


Part 1- 60 minutes; Part 2 – 60 minutes (can be broken into two 30- minute sessions); Part 3- at least 30 minutes, but will vary based on length of student presentations


  • Renewable/Nonrenewable Resources: Development & Use of Energy Resources graphic organizer (one copy per student)
  • Sample posters for teacher modeling of coal “tour”.
  • For the teacher:

    For students: (The first link is for a video resource, and the second link is for a text resource. Full links provided at the end of the lesson. Either print accompanying text resources for students or have devices available for students to view electronically.)

    Suggested Teacher Preparation:

    • View the sample resources on coal, which will be the energy resource modeled by the teacher. This includes the informational resources and the “posters” for a model tour. Coal: Virtual Power Plant Tour, Energy Plant Tours, Text Resource, Text Resource
    • Find supplemental information from one of the coal text resources to fill in additional information on the graphic organizer once the video information has been added.
    • Be able to present the visual/picture tour of coal with the posters provided
    • View videos before lesson to become familiar with the development processes and uses of each of the resources. Teachers may also opt to decide on start and stop point for viewing the videos (as video lengths vary). You must also know enough to decide if students have completed their graphic organizer for their topic in step 6.

    Activity Type

    Project Based

    Purpose Statement (content Focus & Enduring Understanding/Knowledge/Skills and connection to the unit and preceding lessons):

    Students will learn about the relationship of natural resources and energy as well as the importance of stewardship for current and future generations.

    Explanation of how the activity enables students to answer the overarching question:

    By better understanding how minerals and energy are developed in Wyoming, students will be better equipped to be stewards.

    Essential Question:

    How can we be stewards of Wyoming’s minerals and energy to benefit current and future generations?

    Supporting Question:

    Who is involved in the mineral extraction and energy production? How are minerals and energy developed, used, and cared for?


    Science: 4-PS3-2 (explicitly taught)
    Social Studies: SS5.3.1 (explicitly taught)
    ELA: RI.4.9, SL.4.1.c, SL.4.1.d, SL.4.2, SL.4.4 (practiced/encountered)
    ELA: W.4.7 (explicitly taught)
    CVE: CV5.2.2 (practiced/encountered)


    Student groups will each encounter vocabulary unique to their resource as they gather information on their topic.

    Instructional Procedure/Steps:

    Part One – Teacher modeling of research and project development

    1. Show students the video for coal.
    2. After the video is over, model for students the process of completing the Renewable/Nonrenewable Resources: Development & Use of Energy Resources graphic organizer by pulling out important information about the process of how the resource is developed, used, cared for, etc. (The posters provided for the “tour” can be a guide for which information is important.) As you put information in the graphic organizer, talk aloud about why it is an important fact and how it is a part of the development process.
    3. When you have finished inputting information from the video, identify any spots where additional information is needed. and model the process of using one of the text resources to supplement the information. Emphasize that facts are tied to answering the question: “How is this resource developed, used, and cared for?”
    4. Once you feel like the graphic organizer has the needed information, say: “The next part of the process will be putting the information into a presentation that helps others learn about the process that coal goes through to become energy. Since we can’t just jump up and head to a coal mine or an electrical plant for a tour of the whole process, we will be creating a visual tour or a picture tour.” Model the visual tour using the pictures provided for coal. Take the students on a tour of the life of coal using the sample posters for tour stops included at the end of this lesson
    5. Part Two – Student research and project development

    6. Assign students to groups. Each group will look at one of the major energy resources in Wyoming (natural gas, oil, wind, hydro, uranium).
    7. Studentswillworkinsmallgroupstolearnaboutthedevelopmentand use of each resource. They should start by watching the provided video clip and then read through one or more text resources. When finished, each group will decide which steps in the process need to be included in their virtual tour. They will complete the graphic organizer and then check in with the teacher to see if they have included important information and/or if any key facts have been left out. Give groups suggestions on what needs to be added if they are missing information.
    8. Once they have teacher approval and have enacted any suggestions, groups will create a way to share their learning. These can be posters (as in the model), artifacts, pictures, PowerPoints, other presentations, etc.
    9. TEACHER NOTE: Remind students that they need to clearly explain how the raw resource is converted to energy and incorporate the “who” of mining and energy production during their tour. These are important because they relate the content back to the science standard 4-PS3-2 and the supporting question, who is involved? In the “Cared for” section, they should also have some ideas about how the resource is stewarded.

      Part Three – presentations of energy development “tours”

    10. Student groups will be given 10-15 minutes to finish preparations and practice their presentations.
    11. Each resource group will take a turn presenting their natural resource for the rest of the class. As they go to each “stop” on the tour, as appropriate, have the “tour guide” take on the role of someone who would be associated with that part of the process (e.g., miner, engineer, refinery worker, etc.)
    12. After all groups have presented, ask students:
      • Did you see any connections between energy resources?
      • Was stewardship a part of the process to create energy?
        • If yes, have students describe how.
        • If no, say: “We must remember this resource so we can return to its stewardship piece in lesson 9.”


    Student copies of the Renewable/Nonrenewable Resources: Development & Use of Energy Resources graphic organizer. Presentations will address how the resource is developed, how it is used, how it is cared for, and who is involved in the process. Information will also be incorporated into their final projects at the end of the unit, so students should hang onto their graphic organizers for future reference or teachers should collect/make copies for later use.

    Possible extension activities:

    Have someone who works in one of the industries explored come in to talk about the process of mineral or energy production. Take a field trip to a power plant, wind farm, refinery, etc.

    Kid-friendly resources for student research:

    The first two resources below both have sections for each different energy resource.

    Energy Information Administration

    National Energy Education Development Project Elementary Infobook

    Coal: https://www.midamericanenergy.com/virtual-plant-tours.asp or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGY2neMRvpM (same video as source 2 only accessed through youtube)

    Uranium: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=258xiAv_8FQ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNNKhE1FNNM (another option is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oT2LHGG-9Ko – it is a little longer 6 minutes 33 seconds and goes into more depth, but is less “kid friendly” (source 16)

    Natural Gas: http://www.cbi.com/Newsroom/Virtual-Plant-Tours/CB-I-s-NatGas-Station

    Oil: http://www.cbi.com/Newsroom/Virtual-Plant-Tours/CB-I-s-Virtual-Refinery

    Hydroelectric: https://www.midamericanenergy.com/virtual-plant-tours.aspx or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ki8kSB1ThJQ – (same video as source 12 only accessed through youtube)

    Wind: https://www.midamericanenergy.com/virtual-plant-tours.aspx or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FE5FqNGn53E – (same video as source 14 only accessed through youtube)

    Optional additional resources

    Solar: https://www.midamericanenergy.com/virtual-plant-tours.aspx (source 17) Video length 6 minutes 7 seconds or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZ_91uSJuuc (same video as footnote 17 only accessed through youtube)


    1. MidAmerican Energy.(2017). Virtual Plant Tours Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://www.midamericanenergy.com/virtual-plant-tours.aspx
    2. US Energy Information Administration. (n.d.). Coal Basics. Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://www.eia.gov/kids/energy.cfm?page=coal_home-basics
    3. Wyoming Mining Association. (2017) Coal Safety & Reclamation. Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://www.wyomingmining.org/minerals/coal/coal-safety-reclamation/
    4. University of Wyoming Extension Office. (2013, July 26). Uranium Mining. . . with Baking Soda. Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=258xiAv_8FQ
    5. Horizon Nuclear Power. (2016, September 29). How does nuclear energy work? Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNNKhE1FNNM
    6. US Energy Information Administration. (n.d.). Uranium (nuclear) Basics. Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://www.eia.gov/kids/energy.cfm?page=nuclear_home-basics
    7. Chicago Bridge and Iron Co. – CB&I. (2011). Virtual Plant Tours: CB&I’s NaGas Station: Natural Gas Value Chain Retrieved June 26, 2017, from http://www.cbi.com/Newsroom/Virtual-Plant-Tours/CB-I-s-NatGas-Station
    8. US Energy Information Administration. (n.d.). Natural Gas Basics. Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://www.eia.gov/kids/energy.cfm?page=natural_gas_home-basics
    9. Chicago Bridge and Iron Co. – CB&I. (2011). Virtual Plant Tours: Virtual Refinery Retrieved June 26, 2017,from http://www.cbi.com/Newsroom/Virtual-Plant-Tours/CB-I-s-Virtual-Refinery
    10. US Energy Information Administration. (n.d.). Oil Basics. Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://www.eia.gov/kids/energy.cfm?page=oil_home-basics
    11. MidAmerican Energy. (2017). Virtual Plant Tours: Hyrdoelectric Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://www.midamericanenergy.com/virtual-plant-tours.aspx
    12. US Energy Information Administration. (n.d.). Hydropower Basics. Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://www.eia.gov/kids/energy.cfm?page=hydropower_home-basics-k.cfm
    13. MidAmerican Energy. (2017). Virtual Plant Tours: Wind Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://www.midamericanenergy.com/virtual-plant-tours.aspx
    14. US Energy Information Administration. (n.d.). Wind Basics. Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://www.eia.gov/kids/energy.cfm?page=wind_home-basics
    15. The NEED Project. (2016). Elementary Energy InfoBook (Publication). Retrieved June 26, 2017, from http://www.need.org/files/curriculum/guides/Elementary%20Energy%20Infobook.pdf
    16. The Heritage Foundation. (2012, July 13). Powering America: Uranium Mining and Milling. Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oT2LHGG-9Ko
    17. MidAmerican Energy. (2017). Virtual Plant Tours: Solar Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://www.midamericanenergy.com/virtual-plant-tours.aspx