Lesson - Energy Sources: Power Plants


Title: Power Plants Film Documentary 
Grade: 6th Grade
Duration: 3-4 Weeks


Science – SC.6.P.11.1
Explore the Law of Conservation of Energy by differentiating between potential and kinetic energy. Identify situations where kinetic energy is transformed into potential energy and vice versa.

English Language Arts – LAFS.6.SL2
Cluster 2: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas


The student will be able to

  • Expand their knowledge on all types of energy and their usage.
  • Determine what type(s) of power plants are best suited for communities.
  • Why it is necessary to have a variety of energy sources when creating electricity.


Power PlantSteam • Natural GasCombined Cycle Design  Nuclear EnergyHydroelectric EnergyTurbineWind Energy Power PlantSolar Power PlantConventionalNon-ConventionalRenewableDocumentaryBiomass


What is a Documentary?

A documentary seeks out to educate people on a particular subject matter through the use of interviews, video tours and filming of key events.

Background Information

A power plant is considered an industrial facility  used to generate electric power with the help of one or more generators which in turn convert different energy sources into electric power.

As of 2017, there were approximately over 8600 power plants in the United States (How Many Power Plants are there in the United States)

Electricity is a secondary source of energy; which means that the electricity that comes from a conversion of another primary sources, such as coal, natural gas, nuclear, solar, or wind energy.

These energy sources can be both renewable or non-renewable; however electricity itself is neither renewable or non-renewable.  The power plant is where all these conversions can take place.

Most of the time, large power plants can be found far away from populated cities; as they need a great deal of land and sometimes water in order to set all the equipment they need to make/convert the electricity.

All the electricity at a power plant is considered alternating currents (AC); but the type of electric current in your home is direct current (DC).

Power Plants can be divided into two categories:

  • Conventional
  • Non-conventional

Conventional power plants are

  • Fossil fuel power plants: They generate electric power by burning fossil fuel such as coal, natural gas and diesel.
  • Nuclear power plants: It’s a controlled nuclear reaction that is maintained to generate electricity. A good example of this can be found right here at Florida’s Turkey Point.
  • Hydroelectric power plants: These types of plants produce electricity by building dams on suitable rivers.  A good example of this is the Hoover Dam.

Non-conventional power plants are

  • Wind power plants: These use kinetic energy from the wind to create power.
  • Solar power plants: These collect solar radiation to generate power.
  • Geothermal power plants: These use the natural heat found in the deepest levels of the earth to generate electricity.
  • Biomass power plants: These plants use natural organic matter which is then burnt to produce electricity.

What you need to know

Each of these types of power plants has both advantages and disadvantages.  But before you make any judgment calls you really need to investigate them completely.

For example:

  • Nuclear power plants provide large quantities or reliable power with low levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Fossil fuel power plants deliver on-demand, consistent and reliable energy when the resources are available.
  • Hydro, solar, and wind power plants generate renewable electricity; which is emission-free electricity.

Adapted from here.

Video: Types of Energy for Kids – Renewable and Non-Renewable Energies

Video: Fossil Fuels for Kids | Learn all about fossil fuels, what they are, and where they come from


  1. Divide students into groups.
  2. Assign a type of power plant to each group.
  • Steam Turbine: Known as a simple cycle design, traditionally power plants that burn fuel to release heat. Referred to as thermal power plants; uses coal and oil.
  • Gas Turbine: Natural gas plants that burn a steady stream of gas.
  • Combined Cycle Design: Plant that can use exhaust gases from a gas turbine plant and power a steam turbine. A combination of two plants which powers the other.
  • Nuclear: Working in the same way as a coal or oil plant in how power is created a nuclear plant will smash atoms apart to release heat energy instead of burning fuel.
  • Hydro: Use of vast amounts of water to power turbines.
  • Wind: Use of large wind turbines, usually propellers connected to a generator.
  • Solar: Use of photovoltaic panels.
  1. Have copies of the different types of Energy at a Glance posters (You can make extra copies found in our Resources tab).
  2. Have them write down the essential questions they must answer before they can begin.
  3. Once the group has researched the topic in depth, they need to use the basic rules of engineering to answer the essential questions:


  1. What type of power plant?
  2. What type of electricity does it produce?
  3. How much power does it produce?
  4. Where will the plant be located?
  5. What positive and negative impact can this type of plant have on the community?


  1. Brainstorm ideas and write them down.
  2. Discuss the options with the team.
  3. Choose the best idea.
  4. Within the group you must decide who will be:
  • Producer
  • Videographer
  • Editor
  • Interviewers and/or Interviewees
  • Actors portraying
  • Civil engineers who build/design the plant
    • Power Plant Operator
    • Power Plant Distributor
    • Power Plant Dispatcher
    • New Reporters
    • News Anchors


  1. Organize your facts and hand out the correct information to each person’s role in the documentary.
  2. If need be, each person should add more information if they feel it lacks substance.
  3. Share plan with your teacher.


  1. Follow your plan 
  2. Create a Draft
  3. Posters
  4. Backdrops
  5. Signs
  6. It is now time for you to rehearse the entire skit. Remember to take constructive criticism well. It is to ensure that filming goes well and according to plan.
  7. Test it out! Once you do it several times; you’ll know if you need to change anything.


  1. What works?
  2. What doesn’t?
  3. What could work better?
  4. Modify your documentary to make it better.
  5. This is the final step! You have looked at the first run of your documentary and all of you have realized that you may have not answered some of the essential questions or that there are too many pauses in between your filming.This is the time to make corrections and add information.

Complete your filming of the Documentary on Power Plants

Good Luck & Congratulations!