Renewable v. Nonrenewable Energy

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 11033

Has your car ever run out of gas? What if the earth runs out of gas? Think it will? Discover renewable and nonrenewable energy through online articles and games. Then, write about what you've learned!


Earth Science, People and Their Environment

learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Each of the natural resources pictured above can be used to create energy.

  • What do you think happens to each of these sources as they are used to create energy?

Discuss your ideas with a teacher or parent!

Energy sources used for fuel and power, such as fossil fuels, solar power, and wind power, have become essential to life in the 21st Century.

Although energy powers homes, businesses, and automobiles, not all sources of energy are the same.

In this lesson, you will learn about the difference between renewable and nonrenewable energy.

Renewable energy consists of energy sources that can be created over a relatively short period of time, and the source can be replenished, meaning there is always a way to produce more energy from this same source.

Examples of renewable energy include solar, wind, water, geothermal energy, and energy that is produced from biofuels. To learn more about each of these energy sources, read Alternative Energy's article titled, Renewable Energy.

Nonrenewable energy is energy that cannot be created. Nonrenewable energy sources take a long time to form, and once they have been used, they are gone forever.

Examples of nonrenewable energy include fossil fuels (coal, petroleum, and natural gas) and nuclear power. To learn more about nonrenewable energy, read National Geographic Society's article titled, Non-renewable energy.

As you read each of these articles, consider the following questions:

  • What is the difference between renewable and nonrenewable energy?
  • Which form of energy do you think humans use most often?
  • Why would it be important to find more renewable energy sources?

Discuss these questions and answers with a teacher or parent.

Think about what types of energy you use every day.

It is important to find more forms of renewable energy because most humans currently are using nonrenewable sources of energy to power the items they use daily, such as automobiles.

What would happen if the world were to run out of nonrenewable energy sources, such as petroleum? Discuss the answer with your teacher or parent.

Continue on to the Got It? section to see if you can tell the difference between renewable and nonrenewable energy sources!

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