Energy Debate Logo Teacher's Corner
Background Standards Objectives Students


The City Council Energy Debate is a student-centered learning activity. Students work in cooperative groups - each representing a certain type of energy technology. Each group will try to convince the "City Council" to build an electric power plant that uses their type of energy technology. A community group should take a "no growth" approach and will try to convince the council that a new plant is unnecessary.

Each group creates a company name, logo and slogan (for example, hydroelectric power company could be "WaterWorks, Inc." with a slogan of "Dam, We're Good!")

Students will gather information using Internet resources for presentations and debate. See Student Activity Page.

To add realism to the event:
(1) hold the city council meeting in the library or some place other than your classroom
(2) encourage students to "dress the part"
(3) invite faculty, administrators, parents and the community to observe the meeting --they ask great questions and can help you evaluate the students!

PART 1: Team ResearchEach group researches their energy technology type using Internet and other resources. Groups collaborate to create a collective position.Prepare press releases, environmental impact statements, visuals, etc.Rehearse presentations.

PART 2: City Council MeetingEach group presents their energy technology plan. (Hint: Set a time limit.)Allow time for questions.Idle groups should be taking notes on their competitor's presentations to prepare for the debate.

PART 3: Debate
Don't forget to set ground rules! (Example: "No name-calling";"When one person has the floor,others are not to talk")Each group will briefly restate why they are the best choice and others are not.Rebuttals. All groups are expected to defend attacks against their company.

For additional background and activities related to Energy , the following teaching resources are suggested:
Exxon Energy Cube -- available from Exxon Corporation
EnergyQuest --
Alternative Energy Discussion Mailing List -- LISTSERV@SJSUVM1.SJSU.EDU
Contact California Energy Commission or US Department of Energy
"Producing Energy" CD-ROM Produced by Visual Touch; Mac 7.0 or better
"The Environment Series: Preparing Our Future" Interactive tutorial by ComPress; IBM 128k; Mac 512k


This lesson addresses the following California Science Content Standards.

Grade 3

Life, Earth, & Physical Sciences

4a: The sun is the major source of energy for phenomena on the Earth's surface, powering winds, ocean currents, and the water cycle.

6a: The utility of energy sources is determined by factors that are involved in converting these sources to useful forms and the consequences of the conversion process.

6b: Different natural energy and material resources, including air, soil, rocks, minerals, petroleum, fresh water, wildlife, and forests, and classify them as renewable or nonrenewable.

Investigation & Experimentation

7b: Select and use appropriate tools and technology (including calculators, computers, balances, spring scales, microscopes, and binoculars) to perform tests, collect data, and display data.

7d: Communicate the steps and results from an investigation in written reports and verbal presentations.


In this lesson, students in grades 9 - 12 should be able to accomplish the following:




Here are some suggested activities to do as further investigations related to this topic:

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