Students watch a video about biomass—leftovers of once-living materials like wood scraps, unused crops, and yard waste that can be recycled (mainly by burning) to generate energy. They learn that Iowa is on the cutting edge of biomass-based energy research because the state has a lot of plant leftovers from its lumber and grain industries, which become biomass. Students consider how and why biomass could be an energy resource for Iowans, and answer questions about biomass and its potential for creating power.
This lesson is part of "Great States: Iowa | Unit 8: Modern Iowa." In this unit, students will explore the challenges and opportunities facing Iowa in the 21st century.
E.SS.3.13: Identify how people use natural resources, human resources, and physical capital to produce goods and services.
H.SS.4.25: Analyze the impact of technological changes in Iowa, across time and place.
E.SS.5.13: Describe how goods and services are produced and distributed domestically and globally.
- Video: The Future of Energy – Biomass Power
- An interactive whiteboard, projector, or another type of screen to show videos to the class
- Class set of Energy from Biomass handout
- Explain to students that lots of natural materials that we use and waste can be recycled and transformed into usable energy. This includes crop waste, lumber waste, weeds, plants within animal waste, and human garbage like yard and food waste.
- “Biomass” is the term used for all previously living materials that store unused energy. An example of using biomass for energy is to burn wood. Within tree wood is energy from the sun, water, and other nutrients; the tree’s wood can be burned to release the energy in the form of heat. In this video, students will learn more about the possibilities of creating energy from biomass.
- Distribute the Energy from Biomass handout, and instruct students to take notes on how generating energy from biomass is a potential resource for power in Iowa.
- Play the video, The Future of Energy – Biomass Power. [1:11]
- Explain that while biofuel is a cleaner form of energy than fossil fuels, it is not yet as clean and efficient as other renewable energy options. Ask students if they can name other renewable energy sources [wind, solar, geothermal, or hydraulic].
- Based on their notes and what they’ve learned in class, have students answer questions on the handout.
- Biomass is the remains of a wide range of once-living materials. Examples include leftover crops, wood chips, leftover lumber, unused corn seed, leftover corn kernels, switchgrass, weeds, garbage, yard waste, and plants within manure.
- Uses material that would be otherwise wasted, fairly cheap, low pollution and emissions. [0:27]
- Answers will vary.