Geography Lesson Idea: Renewable Energy

Geography Lesson Idea: Renewable Energy

This is a two lesson series about renewable energy and the decision-making involved in locating a new wind farm.

Cross-Curricular Skills

  • Communication.

Key Elements

  • Sustainable Development.

Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities

  • Working with Others; 
  • Managing Information; and
  • Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making.

Learning Intentions

Pupils learn to:

  • understand what renewable and non-renewable energy is;
  • identify the advantages and disadvantages of our energy choices; and
  • consider groups for and against wind energy.

Introduction

As a starter activity, ask your pupils to record as many sources of energy they can name by creating a spider diagram in their notebooks. Encourage them to define the terms renewable and non-renewable energy. Then ask them to categorise their ideas, colour coding them into renewable and non-renewable.

This lesson links to the CCEA STEMworks activities.

Ask the class to work in small groups to prepare a mind map on A3 paper. The mind map should show renewable and non-renewable energy examples and an advantage and disadvantage of each energy choice. Encourage the groups to include pictures and make their mind maps colourful and easy to understand.

Source pictures of detailed mind maps to show the class. This will give them ideas about how to make this detailed enough. Ask each group to show their ideas to the rest of class. If there is time, ask the class to vote for their favourite.

Conclusion

Change the direction of the lesson to focus on wind energy. Ask the class to think of reasons why people may be for and against it. This will feed into Lesson 2. For homework, ask the class to come up with three groups of people who would be for wind energy and three who might be against it in their local area.

Cross-Curricular Skills

  • Communication.

Key Elements

  • Sustainable Development.

Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities

  • Working with Others; 
  • Managing Information; and
  • Thinking Skills, Problem Solving and Decision Making.

Learning Intentions

Pupils are learning to:

  • understand what wind energy is;
  • identify the advantages and disadvantages possible wind farm sites; and
  • consider which site would be best from a choice of five possible locations.

This lesson links to the CCEA STEMworks activities

Introduction

Begin the lesson with an open discussion on wind farms and what they are. You could watch a video clip, for example the video on www.windni.com or refer to a local wind farm that pupils may be familiar with.

Discuss the factors that would make a good location for a wind farm: access to windy conditions, access to a road network, not close to settlements, avoiding protected areas and suitable relief avoiding steep contours. Talk through the reasoning behind these factors and why they matter.

Main

Ask your pupils to work in small groups. Give each group an Ordnance Survey map of a local area with five suggested sites for a wind farm. Try to choose a variety of options, including hills, valleys, built up areas, a protected area or away from roads. This works best if there are at least two viable options, so there is more scope for pupils to justify their choice and it is a more challenging activity. Ask the class to rate each site on the following five factors:

  1. availability of land;
  2. suitability of wind;
  3. distance from settlements;
  4. distance from protected areas; and
  5. ease of access.

Ask your pupils to create a table in their notebooks, similar to the example on Slide 5, to allow easy comparison of scores. The lowest score should be the most suitable location.

Conclusion

Ask each group to announce which site they chose with two points to justify why they chose it. Then use the questions on Slide 7 to encourage debate. Set the class a homework challenge: Wind energy is nothing but hot air: discuss this statement. Depending on your pupils’ level of ability, their responses could be in the form of a simple written answer or a speech, which they can deliver to the class in the next lesson.

Related Stages

Areas of Learning

Geography