Follow up: Renew-A Bean Activity

(Resource: National Renewable Energy Laboratory NREL, US)

Name: ______Date:______

Background: “Electricity powers many homes, buildings, and devices. But in order to create the electricity, another source of energy is needed. These sources can be sunlight, natural gas, oil, water, coal, wind, nuclear power, or other sources. But all natural resources fall under two categories, those that are renewable, and those that aren't. (e-how) Ontario is moving away from fossil-fuel based, non-renewable energy sources, and toward natural sources that generate less pollution and will help improve Ontario's air quality. In this activity, you will gain an understanding of:

- the eventual depletion of fossil fuel resources

- the effect of changing rates of energy use in the future

- the need to conserve as well as the need to develop renewable resources
Pre – Analysis Questions

1 –What is another name for:

a) alternative energy:

b) conventional energy:

2 – List three examples of:

a) alternative energy sources:

b) conventional energy sources:

3 – Is the world population?

a) increasing b) decreasing c) remaining constant

4 – Do you think the world will use more or less energy in coming years? ______



1 – The beans in the paper bag represent non-renewable and renewable energy. The kidney beans represent ______energy and the lima beans represent ______energy. Obtain a bag of beans from your teacher.

2 – For trial #1, draw 10 beans from the bag each turn. Each turn represents a decade. Record your data in the chart below. After every turn, set the non-renewable beans aside and put the renewable beans back in the bag.

3 – Stop picking beans when all the non-renewable beans are used up.

DECADE / 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10
# of renewable
# of non-renewable beans


1 – Place all the beans back in the bag.

2 – In this trial, you will simulate a 10 percent increase in renewables prior to drawing the beans. Add 10 lima beans to your bag. Record your data in the chart below.

DECADE / 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10
# of renewable
# of non-renewable beans


1 – a) Graph your findings for TRIAL #1.

b) In which decade did you start using more renewables than non-renewables?

c) A sustainable rate of energy use ensures that there will always be enough energy for the next year’s needs. When, if ever, was your energy use sustainable during this game?

2 – Which trial do you feel was a better representation of our current situation? Why?

3 - What kind of energy do you think people will be using in the future?


4 – Why don’t you think people use more renewable energy now?


5 – Are there reasons to use more renewables now rather than wait until the non-renewables run out? ______

Each bag contains 90 kidney and 10 lima for trial #1.

Game 1: Draw 10 beans per decade until there are no “nonre- newable” beans left. Pool data, take average, and draw graph.