11-13 yrs old
14-18 yrs old
Climate & Environment
Students explore sustainable energy systems.
April 7, 2021
Energy Skate Park
Trash to Energy Plant
Sustainability City Minecraft World
World to support lesson activities. Direct download.
Complete Lesson Plan
Students will begin their exploration in the school. They will click on Lesson 6 on the teacher. The first stop will be the alternative power plant by way of the city bus. After entering, they will first learn about hydropower from the NPCs they pass. Once they have passed through the plant, they will climb a ladder to explore wind power and even have a chance to restart one of the wind turbines for one of the plant’s workers! Students will then spawn a minecart to travel on the power lines, learning about how the electricity is used. One stop will be at the Landfill Bioreactor (NPC) to explore how items in the landfill can be used for energy. Students will then get off to explore the Waste-to-Energy Plant. Once completed, students will hop back on the bus and head back to town!
Teacher Preparation & Notes
Possible NGSS standard(s):
4-ESS3-1: Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and their uses affect the environment.
4-PS3-2: Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.
4-PS3-4: Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.
The teacher should create a Flipgrid topic for students to use during the closing of this lesson. Students will act as governors of a state and argue the point of using alternative energy in their state. They will need to include what alternative power they chose, what the benefits are, and what the drawbacks are.
The following vocabulary will be used in this lesson and the teacher may want to introduce these to the students beforehand.
The teacher will ask students what they know about alternative energy, landfills, and waste-to-energy plants (PE1). The answers should be placed on a K-W-L chart on the board. Students should then share what they want to know about these energy sources. The teacher will remind students that they will need to take notes during their Minecraft world exploration in order to fill in the “L” part of the chart after.
The teacher will then explain what fossil fuels are and the fact that they are non-renewable resources that will eventually run out. She will ask the class what kind of resources hydropower, wind power, and waste-to-energy are and why they are renewable (PE2).
To give some background on waste-to-energy plants, the teacher will show the video about one (linked) (PE6).
Next, the teacher will explain that both hydropower and wind power require mechanical energy and that is turned into electrical energy. To help students understand mechanical energy and electrical energy, students will complete two PhET simulations (see links) (PE3).
Energy Skate Park: Once opened, click on “Pie Chart” in the upper right-hand corner. Then, place the skater at the top of the half pipe. With the pie chart chosen, students will be able to see how much kinetic and potential energy the skater has at different points. When the skater is paused at the top, she has a lot of potential, or stored, energy. At the bottom, the skater is using a lot of kinetic energy, or energy while in motion.
Signal Circuit: In this simulation, students will understand how electricity runs from a switch to a light. On the bottom, click the button that says, “Show Inside Switch.” The moving blue dots represent the electricity (electrons).
After exploring the PhET simulations, students will explain what they learned about mechanical energy and electrical energy. For older students, the teacher may want to ask them to make the connection between the two—how mechanical energy gets transformed into electrical energy.
Note: See Full Lesson plan for all activities.
Students will be able to…
Sign up for the Minecraft: Education Edition newsletter. We promise to respect your inbox.