Lesson Three: What are Wyoming’s Energy Resources?

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Grade Level:

4th Grade


60-minute session – This could be extended into two days. (Group
research occurring on the first day; presentations occurring on the second day)


  • Picture cards – Copy and cut apart enough picture cards so that there is
    one for each student – you may need to make multiple copies of some images based on the size of your class. These picture cards will determine small groups and the resource that the group is studying. The cards have 6 energy sources (groups) with four pictures/members for each group.
  • TEACHER NOTE: Save these pictures. You will need them again for lesson 5.

  • Student graphic organizers – (one for each student)
  • Poster paper for student posters
  • Markers, colored pencils, etc.
  • Resource Maps from the Wyoming Student Atlas (available in digital
    format at http://atlas.wygisc.org/a> (source 1) or request hard copies through the Wyoming Geographic Alliance: http://www.uwyo.edu/wga/wyoming-student-atlas-project/ )

    • Oil: found on page 39
    • Natural Gas: found on page 39 ○ Coal: found on page 40
    • Uranium: found on page 41
    • Wind: found on page 42
    • Hydro: included

Suggested Teacher Preparation:

  • Familiarize yourself with the information provided from the Resource Maps and/or the Wyoming Student Atlas about each mineral or energy resource. Request hard copies in advance if you want to have them for future use or if you cannot access the digital version.

Activity Type

Project-based activity, primary source activity

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

Through this social studies lesson, students will gain an understanding of what minerals and energy are and acquire knowledge about the main natural resources in Wyoming. Students will create a set of posters that will serve as anchor charts for future work.

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

By understanding the role of minerals and energy 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:

How are minerals and energy unique to Wyoming?


ELA: RI.4.2, SL.4.4 (practiced/encountered for both) CVE: CV5.2.2 (practiced/encountered)


(use as a reference as needed)

  • Energy – power derived from the utilization of physical or chemical resources, especially to provide light and heat or to work machines, useable power
  • Natural resources – sources of life, materials, or energy that are found on the earth

Instructional Procedure/Steps:

  1. Ask: “Have you ever heard the term “natural resources” before?” After eliciting their background knowledge on what natural resources are, provide students with the definition “Natural resources are sources of life, materials, or energy that are found on the earth.”.
  2. TEACHER NOTE: Students may name resources such as water, plants, etc. If they haven’t named any mineral or energy resources, ask them to think back to the text they read in lesson 2, and name resources that were mentioned there.

  3. Ask: “Have you ever heard the word “energy” before?” After eliciting their background knowledge on what energy is, provide students with the definition “Energy is usable power.” Connect this definition to the previous examples the students provided.
  4. TEACHER NOTE: Teachers may want to discuss with students that the term energy can have multiple meanings. This is the definition that will be used for our work in this unit.

  5. Give each student a picture card associated with a natural resource found in Wyoming. Have students move around the room to find other students who have a picture related to the same natural resource. This will determine the small groups the students will be working in.
  6. TEACHER NOTE: Save these pictures. You will need them again for lesson 5.

  7. Once students are in groups, give each group a copy of their resource maps. The resource map each group receives should be the one related to their picture cards. As a group, their job is to read the text information and analyze the map to become “experts” on their Wyoming resource. They will create a poster to share their findings with the rest of the class. Posters should include:
    • A description about what the resource is
    • Facts about how it is unique or important to Wyoming
    • Primary locations in Wyoming where the resource is found
  8. TEACHER NOTE: In order to maximize engagement, teachers may opt to assign “jobs” within groups such as secretary, time manager, discussion director, etc. For the location aspects, it is acceptable for students to only name the region: northwest, southwest, etc.

  9. After posters are completed, pass out to each student the graphic organizer. Each group will present their poster to the class, or students can do a gallery walk. As students are learning about the various resources, they should complete their graphic organizers with information from the other groups’ posters.
  10. Display posters throughout the classroom as anchor charts.


Completed student posters and organizers. Teachers should use the requirements listed in step 4 as a checklist to evaluate posters. Both posters and individual graphic organizers should have correct information.


Lesson adapted from “Introduction to Wyoming’s Energy Resources” through the Wyoming Geographic Alliance and University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources. Retrieved June 22, 2017, from http://www.uwyo.edu/ser/energy-literacy/k-12-education/index.html

For more information on a gallery walk, visit https://www.facinghistory.org/resource-library/teaching-strategies/gallery-walk.

  1. Hammerlink, J.D., Webster, G.R., & Berendsen, M.E. (2014). Wyoming Student Atlas: Exploring our Geography. Laramie: Wyoming: University of Wyoming.