4-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and their uses affect the environment.

If you are teaching the Next Generation Science Standards and are looking for phenomena ideas, you’ve come to the right place! I like to think about phenomena as lesson starters. They are photos or videos showing an observable event in the universe and are used to get kids thinking, asking questions, and discussing their prior knowledge. For more information about using phenomena, there is a handy printable guide and video here:

And now, on to our environmental phenomenon!

Imagine going to the gas station and filling your car up with slimy algae instead of regular gas! Does that sound weird to you? In many places in the world, new forms of energy, like algae and other plants, are becoming more and more common. Soon we may not find it strange at all that what powers our cars is the same thing that grows in our backyards or ends up on our dinner plates! 

Energy made from plants is called biofuel. Biofuels are made from freshly harvested plants. They are renewable because they can be replenished quickly. They are also “clean” because they are grown using the sun’s energy. Ethanol and biodiesel are two of the main biofuels that are used in cars and trucks all over the world. Algae, along with plants like corn, sugar cane, sugar beets, wheat, grass, and soybeans, are being produced for biofuel. By the time algae is processed into fuel for cars, it isn’t slimy like in the photo. But the energy inside this tiny plant packs a powerful punch! As biodiesel, it can be used to power jet planes!


This excerpt is from the text: Plants Power Our Future by Michelle Negron Bueno.  Plants Power Our Future is found in, StarrMatica Texts:  Science Your Way, a collection of informational texts written specifically to address every K-5 NGSS Performance Expectation.  All texts in the collection are written at six different Lexile levels, so all students can read the same content at their reading level.  You can find out more about StarrMatica Texts: Science Your Way here: