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3rd, 4th, 5th


Science, Physics


70 minutes

Regional Focus



Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

How Does Renewable Energy Work? (Renewable Energy #4)

Created By Teachers:
Last Updated:
Feb 21, 2024
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In this lesson, students learn the story of William Kamkwamba, build their own renewable-powered project, and share their project with the broader school community. 

Step 1 - Inquire: Students listen to a read aloud of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, a story about a Malawian boy named William Kamkwamba who helped bring energy to his community.

Step 2 - Investigate: Students build a renewable-powered project.

Step 3 - Inspire: Students write about their project and share their project with the broader school community.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
Teaching Tips


  • Students learn the inspiring story of William Kamkwamba and how he brought power to his community.
  • Students get to engineer with their hands!

Additional Prerequisites

  • This is lesson 4 of 6 in our 3rd-5th grade Renewable Energy unit.
  • You will need to procure a copy of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind for this lesson.
  • The Investigate section of this lesson plan is listed as 40 minutes long. However, some students may need more time to finish their projects. Perhaps they could keep building their projects before school, at recess, after school, or at home.
  • It may be best to check with your administration or team teachers to see if your students can display their projects in a common area. Also, a "please do not touch" sign may be necessary for the display so your students' creations do not get broken.
  • This lesson may need to be postponed if it is not sunny or windy enough on that day.


  • You may not have enough specialized materials (small solar panel, hobby motor, etc.) for all students. Students can work in groups to share these limited materials.
  • If you decide to have your students present to another class, encourage every student to have a speaking part.
  • Perhaps you can allow students to bring in materials from home. Be mindful of students who have nicer materials and how other students feel if they are using school materials only.
Scientist Notes

This lesson engages students to build a renewable energy product. It contains clear illustrations on how to create a product, test it out, and share the innovation with an audience. There are no misconceptions in this lesson. It is advised that this lesson be used in the classroom.


This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

Primary Standards

  • Science
    • 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.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • 3-5-ETS1-1. Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
    • PS3: Energy
      • 4-PS3-4. Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.

Supporting Standards

  • English Language Arts
    • Writing (K-12)
      • W.3.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
      • W.4.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
      • W.5.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

Note On Standards:

This lesson is aligned to SubjectToClimate standards. Review the aligned standards directly in the lesson plan document and teacher slideshow.

Discover more on SubjectToClimate.
Renewable Energy Unit Lesson Plans


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