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Expressions and Equations


6th, 7th, 8th




60 minutes

Regional Focus



Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

Comparing Biofuels (Renewable Energy Algebra #4)

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Feb 23, 2024
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In this lesson, students are introduced to biomass energy and use algebra to calculate the amount of land needed to produce biofuel using different plants.


Step 1 - Inquire: Students watch a video on biofuels and discuss how biofuels are similar to or different from other renewable energy sources.


Step 2 - Investigate: Students complete real-world math problems that compare the amount of land needed for various biofuel crops.


Step 3 - Inspire: Students explore the current use of biomass in their region using this map and discuss potential benefits and drawbacks to increasing biomass energy in their community.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
Teaching Tips


  • Students have opportunities to think critically about the topic of renewable energy in their community.

  • Students have the chance to use math in a real-world application, which makes it more relevant and engaging.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This is lesson 4 of 5 in our 6th-8th grade Renewable Energy Algebra unit.

  • This lesson could be used as a standalone lesson if desired.

  • There are quite a few drawbacks and challenges to large-scale biofuel production and use. Students should begin to see this through their calculations and discussion. An optional extension video is included at the end of the lesson that looks more at some of the issues with biofuel.


  • Teachers can have students work with a partner on the calculations in the Investigate section and purposefully group students based on skill level.

  • Teachers can work in a small group with students who may need additional assistance with the calculations.

  • Teachers can limit the number of questions students complete. Questions get progressively more difficult on the Student Document.

  • Interdisciplinary connections can be made with Earth science, physical science, and engineering design.
Scientist Notes

This lesson introduces students to biofuels and how they are sourced, including the supply chain. It does not only equip them to compute the acres of land needed to grow crops to produce biofuels but allows them to compare biofuels with other renewable energy sources, including the benefits and limitation to scale up. All the materials have been fact-checked, and they are suitable to build students' knowledge on the topic. Hence, this lesson has passed our science credibility process.


This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

Supporting Standards

  • Mathematics
    • Expressions & Equations (6-8)
      • 6.EE.A.2 Write, read, and evaluate expressions in which letters stand for numbers.
      • 6.EE.B.6 Use variables to represent numbers and write expressions when solving a real-world or mathematical problem; understand that a variable can represent an unknown number, or, depending on the purpose at hand, any number in a specified set.
      • 7.EE.B.3 Solve multi-step real-life and mathematical problems posed with positive and negative rational numbers in any form (whole numbers, fractions, and decimals), using tools strategically. Apply properties of operations to calculate with numbers in any form; convert between forms as appropriate; and assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies. For example: If a woman making $25 an hour gets a 10% raise, she will make an additional 1/10 of her salary an hour, or $2.50, for a new salary of $27.50. If you want to place a towel bar 9 3/4 inches long in the center of a door that is 27 1/2 inches wide, you will need to place the bar about 9 inches from each edge; this estimate can be used as a check on the exact computation.
      • 7.EE.B.4 Use variables to represent quantities in a real-world or mathematical problem, and construct simple equations and inequalities to solve problems by reasoning about the quantities.
    • Ratios & Proportional Relationships (6-7)
      • 6.RP.A.3 Use ratio and rate reasoning to solve real-world and mathematical problems, e.g., by reasoning about tables of equivalent ratios, tape diagrams, double number line diagrams, or equations.

Note On Standards:

This lesson is aligned to SubjectToClimate standards. Review the aligned standards directly in the lesson plan document and teacher slideshow.

Discover more on SubjectToClimate.
Renewable Energy Algebra Unit Lesson Plans


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