Power, Pollution, Pros and Cons

Author: Mark Roland
Edited by Stephanie Nardei and Rachel Hughes

Time: 1 Class Period, 5 minutes of a few later class periods
Preparation Time: 10 Minutes

Poster board


During this lesson, students will review what they have learned about non-renewable energy sources from last quarter. Small groups will create a table list the non-renewable energy sources they have studied, and will eventually include all of the renewable energy sources that will be studied this quarter. A comparison and review of the advantages and drawbacks of each will be performed. The environmental health theme for this quarter will be the health problems associated with electricity generation, so the table created will tie future lessons to environmental health.

Students will be able to:
1. Compare and contrast the following:

  • the cost of energy sources
  • feasibility
  • air pollution
  • water pollution
  • other risks

National Science Education Standard
Content Standard F- Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

  • Human populations use resources in the environment in order to maintain and improve their existence. Natural resources have been and will continue to be used to maintain human populations.
  • The earth does not have infinite resources; increasing human consumption places severe stress on the natural processes that renew some resources, and it depletes those resources that cannot be renewed.


  • Natural ecosystems provide an array of basic processes that affect humans. Those processes include maintenance of the quality of the atmosphere, generation of soils, control of the hydrologic cycle, disposal of wastes, and recycling of nutrients. Humans are changing many of these basic processes, and the changes may be detrimental to humans.
  • Materials from human societies affect both physical and chemical cycles of the earth.
  • Many factors influence environmental quality. Factors that students might investigate include population growth, resource use, population distribution, over consumption, the capacity of technology to solve problems, poverty, the role of economic, political, and religious views, and different ways humans view the earth.

Teacher Background

Related and Resource Websites


1 At the beginning of class have students brainstorm in their notes responses to this question:
How do fossil fuels and nuclear power contribute to environmental health concerns? Think about dangers both near the production plants and in the mining or drilling of raw materials.

2. Ask for ideas, and brainstorm for more Organize the information on the board in a table format with energy sources listed in the left column and other columns for the following:

  • air pollution
  • water pollution
  • soil contamination
  • potential health risks
  • other risks
  • advantages

3. Create small groups of three or four students, giving each group a poster board and some markers to design a chart similar to the one started on the board. Ensure students’ tables include oil, natural gas, coal, fission, and fusion. The tables should also have room for about 10 more energy sources to be added on throughout the quarter.

4. Give them rest of class to design chart informing them it will be graded after completion later in the quarter. Encourage them to make it presentable taking sufficient care, allowing room for information to be added.

5. If there is time remaining, continue brainstorming ensuring students have the required information especially if the initial class list didn’t include all sources covered so far (coal, oil, natural gas, fission, fusion).

Later in the quarter, once all energy sources have been covered, students will review their completed tables.

Not Applicable.

Embedded Assessment
Later in the quarter once table is finished, students can be assessed on the completion, organization, and effective presentation of the information.











PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
  Page Content: Rachel Hughes
Web Master: Travis Biazo