Earth City: Bioenergy

Earth City: Bioenergy

8-10 yrs old

11-13 yrs old

14-18 yrs old

Climate & Environment



Explore biomass and how it can be used to create energy.

avatar Submitted By:

August 6, 2021

Learning Objectives

  • • Accurately explain the characteristics of biomass, including the sources where it comes from. • Differentiate the types of energy that biomass can be used for and identify the process it takes to burn biomass into energy.

Guiding Ideas


This lesson, which is part of the ‘Ecosystems Zone C’ of the 2030 city, focuses on bioenergy. It specifically addresses the types of biomass that exist as well as the process that they go through to produce energy.

Guiding questions:

• What sources does bioenergy come from?

• What process does biomass go through to produce energy?

Teacher preparation and notes:

• Possible standard(s) alignment:

o SDG-13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

o SDG-7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

o SDG-15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

o 4-PS3-2. Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.

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

o MS-ESS3-3. Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.

• Vocabulary

o Biomass

o Photosynthesis

o Combustion

o Thermochemical

o Pyrolysis

o Hydrotreating

o Gasification



Student Activities

Getting started:

Review the lesson’s essential questions with the students and ask them to think about everything they know about bioenergy. Before students share out loud, ask them to create a KWL chart (three columns: Know, Want to Know, and Learned). Students will take a few minutes to individually reflect on what they know and want to know about the forest ecosystem and the role it plays.

After students have had a chance to think and reflect about bioenergy on their own, they will pair with someone in the class to share the ideas that they wrote—both what they know and what they want to know. Partners will then be asked to share some examples they discussed you record them in a class KWL chart about bioenergy. You can do this in a large anchor chart or in a OneNote notebook, so that students can follow along in their computers.

Then introduce new vocabulary for the lesson: biomass, photosynthesis, combustion, thermochemical, pyrolysis, hydrotreating, and gasification. Students may know the definition of some of these words already or may have heard them in context.

Then, students will watch the brief Bioenergy | Department of Energy video twice. The first time they watch it, they won’t take any notes. However, the second time they watch it, they will jot down ideas they’ve learned in the “Learned” column of their KWL chart.

Next, introduce the game in Minecraft: Education Edition and students will log in.

Go play the minigame for this section.






Performance Expectations


Students will take a selfie in Minecraft next to their bioenergy activity and will write a caption in their portfolio.

After students have had the opportunity to immerse themselves within the game to better understand the role of forests, they will take 5-10 minutes to independently reflect in their KWL chart. This time, they will fill out the “learned” column with the new ideas they have gained about biomass, where it comes for (PE1), what it can be used for (PE2), as well as how the process of biomass turning into energy works (PE3). They can also jot down new questions that they now have that they didn’t have before, after learning more about bioenergy. Invite students to share ideas to write in the “learned” column for the class chart, adding them to the chart paper or on OneNote for the whole class to see.


• Option 1: Further research and engaging presentation: Students who want to explore the topic further will read the Biomass explained - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) resource and then will take the interactive quiz about bioenergy as they learn new and interesting facts about the role of bioenergy in the energy sector. Then, they will create an engaging Sway or Power Point presentation for their peers with new information they’ve learned from these additional resources.

• Option 2: Minecraft video. Students will explain their answer to the lesson’s essential questions by creating a video in Minecraft. They will walk their audience through visuals that explain what bioenergy is, where it comes from, and how it’s made. They can add any other relevant details about the bioenergy plant and how it works.

Performance Expectations

Students will be able to…

• Name several characteristics of biomass, including the sources where it comes from (PE1)

• Explain the types of energy that biomass can be used for (PE2)

• Identify the process it takes to burn biomass into energy (PE3)