Lesson Six: Energy Resources in Wyoming’s Economy and Culture

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Grade Level:

4th Grade


60-90 minutes (in two parts)


  • Cloze activity sheet: Energy Resources in Wyoming’s Economy and Culture (one per student) – (sources 1-12)
  • Teacher copy of cloze activity sheet: Energy Resources in Wyoming’s Economy and Culture
  • Energy Consumption/Production graphs (optional)
  • Available apparatus to play Kahoot or white board/paper and marker, (see Instructional Procedure Part 1 Steps 3 & 4)
  • “Panel discussion” sheet (one per student)
  • Signs from the Role sheet (included) or hats to indicate student roles
  • Chart paper
  • Markers

Suggested Teacher Preparation:

  • Try out the Kahoot game ahead of time. (Link provided below)
  • Secure devices for students to play the Kahoot game or other materials needed for review questions and results.
  • Arrange desks or tables for panel discussion.
  • Be familiar with mineral and energy facts from the teacher copy of cloze activity sheet: Energy Resources in Wyoming’s Economy and Culture. Understand the big picture of how minerals and energy play a role in Wyoming’s economy and culture:
    • Wyoming has abundant sources of minerals and energy. They are an important part of our economy and culture. Wyoming is the country’s leading producer of coal, bentonite, uranium, and trona. Data provided by State of Wyoming Economic Analysis Division shows that in 2015 the mining industry made up 34% of Wyoming’s economy and almost 9% of Wyoming jobs. Wyoming plays an important role in powering the nation. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Wyoming supplies more energy to the rest of the nation and has more producing federal oil and natural gas leases than any other state (updated December 2016). (sources 13-14)

Activity Type

Simulation taking on multiple perspectives

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

Students will learn the difference between renewable and nonrenewable resources and the importance of stewardship for current and future generations.

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

By understanding how important natural resources and energy are to Wyoming’s cultural and economy, students will better understand the importance of being stewards of Wyoming’s minerals and energy.

Essential Question:

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

Suggested Question:

How do minerals and energy impact Wyoming’s culture? How have minerals and energy changed over time? How might they change in the future? What happens if minerals and energy in Wyoming go away?


Social Studies: SS5.2.1, SS5.4.1 (both practiced/encountered)
Social Studies: SS5.3.2 (explicitly taught)
ELA: SL.4.1.a, SL.4.1.c, SL.4.4 (all practiced/encountered)
CVE: CV5.2.3 (practiced/encountered)


(use as a reference as needed)

  • Economy – financial system of interaction and exchange
  • Culture – a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization
  • Impact – have a strong effect on someone or something

Instructional Procedure/Steps:

  1. Say: “Brainstorm all the ways that you have used or been impacted by energy in the last 48 hours.” Record responses on chart paper.
  2. Guide students in a whole group discussion by asking the following questions:
    • Who pays for schools/government buildings to be built?
    • Who pays for teachers/first responders/firefighters, policemen salaries?
    • How does the state of Wyoming receive money?
    • If the state was not able to make money off our resources, what would happen? For example, what would be the impact to our schools, our libraries, etc.? What jobs would be impacted?
    • TEACHER NOTE: The amount of teacher input in this discussion will vary based on students’ previous exposure to these concepts. Students need to understand that public services and resources are funded through tax money, and that a large portion of Wyoming’s money comes from the mineral and energy industry.

  3. Pass out the cloze activity sheet: Energy Resources in Wyoming’s Economy and Culture to each student. Explain to students how to play Kahoot, an online game-based instructional tool. The teacher device will need to be connected to a projector to display the game questions for the students. Teacher will click on the link https://play.kahoot.it/#/k/d637b2d2-644d-4778-8fde-3df88fcc10a3 and then click play. At this point a 6-digit game code will generate. Students use their devices (any device with internet access will work – iPad, computer, tablet etc.) to log on to Kahoot.it. They will be asked to type in the six-digit code and their name to join the game.
  4. When all students have joined, the teacher will start the game, displaying the first question. Students will read the question and select the answer they think is correct via iPad, computer or other device. If these options are unavailable, students can respond using a personal whiteboard, paper, etc.
  5. Have students fill in the blanks on their worksheets as you play the game. (Question 1 on the game matches question 1 on the students’ cloze sheet and the teacher copy) By the end of the game, all blanks should be filled in. Follow the teacher copy for filling in the blanks because not all blanks will be filled with the game alone.
  6. Suggested break for part 2

  7. Separate students into 5 groups. Explain to students that each group will be thinking like a different type of person: farmer, student, miner, businessperson, teacher. As a group, have students review their cloze activity sheets: Energy Resources in Wyoming’s Economy and Culture from the previous activity. Say: “Select 5-7 facts from the worksheet that you feel most impact or are most relevant to your assigned person.”
  8. Using these facts and their knowledge from previous lessons, have each group discuss and write the answers on the Panel Discussion” sheet using the following questions:
    • How do these energy resources positively affect your life?
    • How do these energy resources negatively affect your life?
    • Which energy resource has the biggest impact on your life? Why?
    • Which energy resource could you live without? Why?
    • How would your life change if the most important resource to you was no longer available?
    • How would your life change if the price of that resource doubled?
    • How would you steward natural resources to benefit all Wyoming’s citizens?
    • Emphasize they should be thinking about answers that are specific to the particular role that they are taking on during the activity.

  9. In a panel discussion format, a student from each role/group will represent their Wyoming citizen to answer a question by the teacher from the list provided.
    • Have one student from each role/group come forward. (They can hold a sign to show which role they are playing or wear hats!)
    • The teacher poses one of the questions from the list provided. Each student on the panel takes a turn answering the question as it relates to them. Students can use their discussion sheets as an aid.
    • When everyone on the panel has responded to the question, another person from the group will tag in to respond to the next question.
    • Repeat until all questions have been discussed. Each student in the group will be given the opportunity to respond to at least one question.
  10. After the panel discussion, revisit the brainstorming chart and add any additional information based on the cloze reading and panel discussion.


Completed cloze activity sheet; class discussion after revisiting the ways that students are impacted by Wyoming’s energy and natural resources

Energy and mineral relationship to Wyoming economy and culture. (Teacher Copy)

Teacher Directions: The question number noted on the teacher copy corresponds to the question number of the Kahoot game. Teacher will need to stop and discuss each question/statement so students can successfully complete the cloze activity. Highlighted discussion questions are not included in the companion Kahoot and need to be discussed at the point they appear in the following cloze worksheet.


Question 1 – Wyoming is the nation’s top coal producer and the amount available could provide energy for the next 150 years.
Question 2 – Coal contributed over 1 billion dollars in taxes to Wyoming. This money is used to fund the state government, pay teachers, and build new schools.

Discussion Question: One pound of coal supplies enough electricity to light ten 100-watt light bulbs for one hour, and the average person uses the equivalent of 20 lbs of coal each day.

Question 3 – In 2015, 6,646 people were employed by Wyoming coal mines.


Discussion Question: In 2015 oil and gas production contributed $2.1 billion to state and local governments and the industry directly employed over 20,402 people.
Question 4 -Nationally, Wyoming ranked 8th in production of crude oil in 2015.
Question 5 – Petroleum pipelines are located in all of the state’s 23 counties.
Question 6 – Takes 3 million gallons of water to provide fracturing for one well.

Natural Gas

Question 7 – Wyoming ranked 5th in the nation in the production of natural gas in 2015.
Question 8 – Natural gas has many different uses. The most common are heating, manufacturing, and electricity.
Discussion Question: Sublette and Campbell counties have experienced rapid growth in recent years due to oil, gas, and coal extraction.


Question 9– Wyoming is ranked 15th in the country for the number of wind turbines it has installed.
Question 10 – Generating wind power creates no emissions and uses virtually no water.
Discussion Question: One wind turbine doesn’t make much electricity. Most wind farms may have many wind turbines and can take up a lot of land, but that land can still be used to farm or graze animals.


Question 11 – Hydropower is the world’s largest contributor of all renewable resources. It makes up 6.7% of electricity production worldwide.
Question 12 – Wyoming has 11 hydro-electric power plants with a combined installed capacity of over 280 megawatts.
Question 13 – Reservoirs created by hydro plants can be used for swimming, fishing, boating, and other sports.


Question 14 – Wyoming has the largest uranium reserves in the country.
Question 15 – About one pound of Uranium can produce the same amount of energy as 20,000 pounds of coal.
Question 16 – Uranium is a mineral found in rocks in the ground.



  1. Hammerlink, J.D., Webster, G.R., & Berendsen, M.E. (2014). Wyoming Student Atlas: Exploring our Geography. Laramie:Wyoming: University of Wyoming.
  2. Petroleum Association of Wyoming. (2016). Wyoming Oil and Gas Facts and Figures (Publication). Retrieved July 8, 2017, from http://www.pawyo.org/images/2016_PAW_Facts_and_Figures_Brochure.pdf
  3. The NEED Project. (2016). Elementary Energy InfoBook (Publication). Retrieved June 26, 2017, from http://www.need.org/files/curriculum/guides/Elementary%20Energy%20Infobook.pdf
  4. Wyoming Mining Association. (n.d.). Retrieved June 27, 2017, from https://www.wyomingmining.org/
  5. World Nuclear Association. (2016,May). Safety of Nuclear Power Reactors. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/safety-and-security/safety-of-plants/safety-of-nuclear-power-reactors.aspx
  6. Koontz, R. Kids Discover.(2015, April 13). What’s Good and What’sBad about Wind Energy? Retrieved June 27, 2017, from https://www.kidsdiscover.com/teacherresources/whats-good-whats-bad-wind-energy/
  7. Student Energy. (n.d.). Retrieved June 27, 2017, from https://www.studentenergy.org/
  8. Student Energy; Rutherford, J. (n.d.). Natural Gas. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from https://www.studentenergy.org/topics/natural-gas?gclid=Cj0KEQjwh428BRCnvcyI-5nqjY4BEiQAijebwpbhLABqr5r1qBMEN_bwTXPk4VFni3QX_GZzC3JjHkAaAuED8P8HAQ
  9. Hammons, L., & Biondolillo, C. Wyoming Public Media. (2013, February 4). Yellowstone’s new hydroelectric plant is up and running. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from http://wyomingpublicmedia.org/post/yellowstones-new-hydroelectric-plant-and-running
  10. U.S. Energy Information Administration – EIA. (2017, April 18). FAQs: What is U.S.electricity generation by energy source? Retrieved June 27, 2017, from https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3
  11. U.S. Energy Information Administration – EIA. (2017, May 10). FAQs: How much of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are associated with electricity generation? Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=77&t=11
  12. U.S. Energy Information Administration – EIA. (2016, March). Trends in U.S. Oil and Natural Gas Upstream Costs (Rep.). Retrieved July 8, 2017 from https://www.eia.gov/analysis/studies/drilling/pdf/upstream.pdf
  13. State of Wyoming. (2015,December). Economic Summary: 3Q2015. Retrieved July 8, 2017 from http://eadiv.state.wy.us/wef/Economic_Summary3Q15.pdf
  14. U.S. Energy Information Administration – EIA. (2016, December). Retrieved June 27, 2017 from https://www.eia.gov