How to Teach Students About Renewable Energy

5 min read

| By Gale Staff |

What is renewable energy? Renewable energy is energy derived from natural sources that regenerate at a higher rate than people consume them. For example, sunlight and wind are renewable energy sources that are constantly being replenished naturally in the environment.

Conversely, fossil fuels—like coal, oil, and gas—are non-renewable resources that take millions of years to form. We use fossil fuels at a much faster pace than they can regenerate. Experts agree that transitioning from fossil fuels, which currently account for most emissions, to renewable energy is key to addressing the climate crisis.

The topic of renewable energy can be studied in your science, environmental studies, or engineering classes. Educators can use Gale resources to teach students about different types of renewable resources, their benefits, history, and how to think critically about future innovation. With Gale In Context, you can discover digital content that seamlessly adds to your renewable energy lesson plan. Plus, Gale In Context resources can support student learning at any age. Content is categorized by grade level and constantly updated—ensuring students are connected to age-appropriate, unbiased materials.

Engage Elementary Learners

It’s never too early to get your students excited about science, and Gale In Context: Elementary is designed specifically for young learners. This curriculum-aligned resource is easy to use and packed with visuals to help your students feel motivated and confident about self-guided learning.

Gale In Context: Elementary introduces children to renewable energy with a topic overview that includes eye-catching headers, fun fonts, and simple facts—i.e., renewable energy sources are cleaner than fossil fuels. As students scroll, they’ll discover clearly organized sections for book and magazine articles, all from kid-friendly sources. The different sub-sections list a handful of top resources, so young researchers can navigate the topic in more manageable chunks rather than an endless list of search engine links.

Classroom Activity Idea: Ask students to explore one source of renewable energy using Gale In Context: Elementary; encourage them to get creative by making a visual collage of their findings.

Help Middle Schoolers Develop Research Skills

As middle school students grow, Gale In Context evolves alongside them. The content housed in Gale In Context: Middle School is a bit more advanced and prepares middle school students for the research skills they’ll need to succeed in high school. Allow your young teens to dive into current articles from major publications or listen to audio files from news outlets. Gale’s search results are designed to encourage middle schoolers, featuring engaging content, visual design, and authoritative publications geared toward young researchers.

Classroom Activity Idea: Have students research renewable energy in Gale In Context: Middle School and write a paper about what they predict energy sources will look like 50 years from now in their hometown.

Inspire High School Students to Think Critically

As you prepare your high school students for academic research, use Gale In Context: High School as a hub to develop information literacy and critical-thinking skills. Students can immediately engage with interdisciplinary content, whether they’re exploring the intersection of renewable energy and business, engineering, economics, or current events. With a quick keyword search, your students can instantly find a helpful, in-depth summary of renewable energy and dozens of embedded hyperlinks for further reading. Encourage your students to thoroughly explore a sub-topic of their choosing, such as wind power, solar power, geothermal energy, tidal power, biomass, or another alternative energy.

Classroom Activity Idea: Ask students to research two renewable energy sources to compare their uses, benefits, environmental impact, costs, and more. Have them take a stance on which energy source is more beneficial long-term and explain why, citing sources from Gale In Context: High School.

Explain Opposing Viewpoints on Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is a politicized issue, and debate around renewable energy’s role in the modern world is a critical skill for the modern learner. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints provides students with articles, videos, audio clips, and other digital content covering all sides of current issues, allowing learners to understand opposing views and create their own informed opinions. Renewable energy’s place in the energy sector can be a controversial subject, so it’s essential that your students engage with impartial, reliable research materials. With traditional search engines, you can never guarantee what your students might stumble upon. Opposing Viewpoints can assist your students in learning about all sides of an issue from reputable sources.

Students can begin their research with Featured Viewpoints, a subsection of articles that highlights how this topic is trending in the national conversation. Are renewable energy sources as clean and reliable as climate change activists think? Should nuclear power be included in renewable energy advancements? What should the federal government’s role be in the energy sector?

With Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints, students can discover primary sources, infographics, key statistics, videos, and more to help them understand each side’s answers to controversial renewable energy questions.

Classroom Activity Idea: It’s time for a debate! Divide your students into groups and have them lead an informed debate about whether it’s time for the United States to eliminate fossil fuels and transition to renewable resources, citing resources in Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints.

Integrating Gale In Context into your lesson plans can help you introduce all students to today’s complex topics and develop key skills for future learning. No matter your student’s grade level or technical skills, Gale In Context‘s digital content is user-friendly, with meaningful search features, helpful translation resources, and citation tools. Any user can simply search “renewable energy” and find hundreds of relevant results.

Don’t have access to Gale In Context? Learn more about the resources or contact your rep today.

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