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Nov 10, 2021


60 minutes


3rd, 4th, 5th


  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Civics
  • English Language Arts
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Physical Science

Regional Focus

  • Global


  • Google Docs
  • Google Slides

How Can We Encourage Our Community to Use More Renewables? (Renewable Energy #6)


In this lesson, students advocate for renewable energy in their schools and communities. 

Step 1 - Inquire: Teacher shares the story of Team Marine, a group of youth activists from California who fought to ban plastic bags in their neighborhood.

Step 2 - Investigate: Students choose from a variety of projects to advocate for more renewable energy in their schools and communities. Students can write letters, create videos, write speeches, or choose another way to advocate for a cleaner world!

Step 3 - Inspire: Students follow through with their advocacy by sending letters and videos, delivering speeches, etc. Finally, students reflect on their activism experience.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
10 minutes
  • Teacher shares the work of Team Marine, a group of young activists in Santa Monica, California fighting to eliminate plastic pollution in their community.
  • Students watch Team Marine - Young Voices for the Planet.
  • Optional: Teacher can show the mockumentary at the bottom of the page called The Majestic Plastic Bag. It is hilarious.
  • Teacher facilitates a brief discussion using the guiding question "What did Team Marine do to solve the plastic problem in the ocean?"
50 minutes
  • Teacher shares the vocabulary word activist and introduces Greta Thunberg.
  • Students conduct research on their cities to see if there is renewable energy near them.
  • At this point, students can decide to advocate for renewable energy in a number of different ways:
    • Create a video
    • Create a Google Slides presentation
    • Write an individual letter
    • Write a class letter
    • Anything else the students create!
  • There is no set amount of time for the Inspire section in this lesson.
  • Students follow through with their activism. This can mean many things, including:
    • Emailing a letter or video
    • Sending a letter in the mail
    • Delivering a speech
  • Some of these things will most likely happen outside of regular class time.
  • Optional: Students can organize and present at their own "environmental conference" at your school!
  • Finally, students reflect on this unit and their activism experience using the guiding questions on slide 14. This can be a writing activity, discussion, or simply a thoughtful and reflective moment.
Teaching Tips


  • Students transform into activists in this final lesson in the unit.
  • Students are able to engage with community stakeholders outside of the classroom.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This is lesson 6 of 6 in our 3rd-5th grade Renewable Energy unit.
  • It may be difficult to figure out how much renewable energy exists in your community or how much of your local electrical grid is powered by renewable energy. Your students could explore this interactive map from the EPA showing all energy infrastructure and resources.
  • If you or your students do not know how to focus your activism, you can advocate for rooftop solar panels on your school if it makes sense.
  • Support your students appropriately if they would like to take this project to the next level. Perhaps they could continue their activism before school, at recess, or after school. It may be nice to ask some of your fellow teachers to also support their efforts.
  • This lesson plan might lead to the founding of a student activism group!


  • There are many options for differentiation in this unit. Students can work individually or in groups as they design their own activism.
  • Quieter students may want to write a letter to share their thoughts.
  • More extroverted students may want to deliver a speech to a school or community leader or sit down with them for a one-on-one discussion.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 4-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and that their uses affect the environment.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 4: Communicating and Critiquing Conclusions
      • D4.3.3-5 Present a summary of arguments and explanations to others outside the classroom using print and oral technologies (e.g., posters, essays, letters, debates, speeches, and reports) and digital technologies (e.g., Internet, social media, and digital documentary).
    • Dimension 4: Taking Informed Action
      • D4.7.3-5 Explain different strategies and approaches students and others could take in working alone and together to address local, regional, and global problems, and predict possible results of their actions.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Writing (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.1 Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.1 Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.


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