Lesson Plan: How Coal Turns into Electricity


Based on the diagram “How Coal Is Converted to Electricity

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Objective: View the animation that shows the steps to turn coal into electricity. In addition, look at other resources that explain the same process. Write up the steps in order.

Overview: Students will view the animation on turning coal into electricity. Using other resources as well, the students will imagine that they are tour guides, leading people through the process. At each stop, students will describe what is happening and why. Students will then show the animation and narrate the process as if they were the tour guides.

Standards Addressed: National Science Education Standards Content Standard D:

  • As a result of activities, students should be able to develop an understanding of properties of earth materials. The varied materials have different physical and chemical properties which make them useful in different ways, such as a source of fuel.


Activity Steps:

  1.  Students can be put into small groups for this activity. They will watch the coal animation and read the brief description of what happens at each step. Go over vocabulary to be sure all students understand the process.
  2. Divide the process into three locations such as The Coal Mine, The Power Plant, and The Community. List these on the Coal to Electricity Organizer sheet in the main headings. These will be the main stops on the tour.
  3. Using other resources (such as the two websites listed), have the students describe simply what is happening at each location and why this step is necessary. List these details on the organizer.
  4. After taking notes, have students practice what will be said at each stop on the tour.

Conclusion: Have students take the class on a “tour” of the process of turning coal into electricity. Use the coal animation as the basis of the tour and have students add in their own details and information from their research. Make these presentations to the class.

Extension: Let the whole class build a model of the process. Each group can take one stop and create a 3-D model of what that step looks like. Put together all the stops to make a full model of the process.