What is each person's responsibility for environmental stewardship?
NOTE: Prior to this lesson, use the Blue Sky Activity in which students envision a better world. If you already have a Blue Sky display, revisit it before beginning this lesson.
The intent of this lesson is to raise the learners' awareness of responsible energy usage in their school. Learners propose ways to promote environmental stewardship of renewable and non-renewable energy sources.
One 50 Minute Class Period
The learner will:
- examine current and future energy needs at their school.
- identify and articulate the difference between renewable and non-renewable energy sources.
- define environmental stewardship as it relates to the responsible use of our natural energy sources.
- brainstorm creative and practical ways to reduce the demand for energy in the school.
- work with others to choose the best plan of action to reduce energy use at school.
- carry out the plan and promote it through advocacy.
Make arrangements to have an expert speak to the class (or provide information in writing) about energy resources and consumption at the school. This may be the building maintenance supervisor, an outside contractor, or a business administrator at the district level. Send a copy of Attachment One: What We'd Like to Know to the expert in advance so he/she can look up the information, if necessary.
(Teacher Note: Invite the person in charge of maintaining energy consumption data for your school to come and speak to your class or provide the information in writing. See Teacher Preparation.)
Before students enter the classroom, write the following instruction on the display board: "Write an ENERGY SOURCE on the board." As students enter the class, have them write on the board any energy sources they can think of (food, gas, oil, wind, etc.). When the students are seated, ask for volunteers to name examples from the generated list that describe the energy sources we use to run our homes, schools, communities, and machines. Highlight or circle these sources. Tell the class that today they will be talking about energy consumption at the school building.
- Distribute a copy of Attachment One: What We'd Like to Know to each learner. Introduce the speaker and explain to the class that they should ask the questions on the handout and take notes. (Teacher Note: If you were unable to obtain a speaker, have the learners take notes while you answer the questions.) The students may ask additional questions or share additional insights about the school's energy use.
- Ask the students what they know about the differences between renewable and non-renewable energy sources. (Definition: A non-rewable energy source is one that gets used up and cannot be recreated in a short period of time. A renewable energy source can be replenished in a short period of time.)
- Have the learners name some non-renewable and renewable energy sources they think are used today. Follow up this discussion by distributing a printout of Energy Sources (about renewable and nonrenewable energy). Review the different energy sources found there. Discuss the pros and cons of using renewable and non-renewable resources.
- Define environmental stewardship as the careful and responsible management of our environment. Ask the students whose responsibility it is to care for the environment. Have them explain how environmental stewardship includes using less energy from non-renewable sources and more energy from renewable sources. Discuss their responsibility to the environment and their future as it relates to energy. Encourage the students to take personal action and be advocates to others for being responsible users of the earth's natural resources. Explain that advocacy is a form of philanthropy because they are giving their time and talent for the common good.
- Have the learners brainstorm ways to reduce energy consumption in the school, practice energy stewardship, and promote the use of renewable energy sources. Encourage creative thinking and a range of ideas at this point. Sometimes the best ideas are offshoots from unpractical ideas. They may get some ideas from the answers to question six on the handout.
- After brainstorming ideas, have the class select actions and projects to complete during their Earth Day Event.
- As a part of the Earth Day Event, have students create informational and persuasive posters to display around the school. The posters should encourage all students to get involved in promoting energy stewardship through school-wide conservation efforts for the benefit of all.
Learner participation in the group discussions is the basis for the assessment of this lesson.
Learning Link(s): (click to view)
Have students interview family members about their knowledge and experience with renewable energy sources. Students find out which renewable energy sources are used in homes, community, and places of employment. This provides an opportunity to discuss family values and raise awareness of the need for renewable energy sources.
- Students research the costs and benefits of using solar panels, a windmill, or another renewable energy source to supplement the school building's current energy source.
- Assign an energy source to each group of three or four students. Have them research and report on the energy source, showing the pros and cons.
- Have students determine the amount of renewable energy the local utility companies presently use and request information about future plans for using renewable energy sources. Students can advocate for environmental stewardship by writing letters to the editor of a local newspaper.
- Students investigate state policies about renewable energy sources and then write letters of advocacy to representatives of state government.
- Have students create a timeline of inventions of the 20th/21st century, illustrating the increased energy demands of our society (automobile, airplane, air conditioner, home electricity, computer).
- Have students read and report on activities pursued and sponsored by the Earthday Network http://www.earthday.net/ concerning renewable sources of energy.
Reflection: (click to view)
Lesson Developed By:
Newark, NJ 77108
What We'd Like to Know
1. How much money is budgeted/used to support the energy we need to run our school?
2. What source of energy does our school use?
3. What source of energy do we use the most?
4. Are there months of the school year when we use more energy than other months? If so, when and why?
5. Are there any future plans to use more renewable energy sources here at school? If so, what are they? If not, can you see ways that renewable energy could be used to replace or supplement the non-renewable energy sources we are presently using?
6. What are some of the things students could do that would help to reduce the demand for energy in our school?