Power Companies and Dams

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SWBAT identify the ways that power companies utilize the river to create usable energy for human use.

Big Idea

People use hydroelectric power to help meet their needs.


10 minutes

I begin the lesson, by reviewing the content we studied in the previous lesson on turbines. I ask students to create a drawing, graphic, or short paragraph explaining how water is used to generate electricity at hydroelectric dams. I provide time for the students to create and share these organizers with one another. This activity helps to activate the shared base of prior knowledge we built as we studied hydropower and prepare students to explore how hydroelectricity is used in the community.

Guided Practice

20 minutes

Next, I ask students to review the article The Power of Water that they read in the lesson on turbines. This article is found in the power company research packet. During the initial reading, students were focused on gaining content knowledge to help them better understand how the mechanical energy of flowing water is transformed into electrical energy. In this second reading, I ask students to think about the perspective of the power company. I ask students to consider why the power company would desire to harness the energy found in rivers and streams. I also ask students to consider the power users and whether hydroelectricity is a benefit to them.

As I guide students through the second reading of the text, I ask them to highlight key information and to transfer this information to their note taking outline.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

After students have completed their notes on The Power of Water, I ask them to repeat this process with the other two articles in their research packet. The next two articles discuss how hydroelectricity is used in our local area. As they read, I ask students to highlight key facts and to determine which pieces of information might tell us more about the opinion of power companies and power users.

After, reading both articles, I ask student to transfer the highlighted information onto their note taking outline. A sample of a students completed notes can be found here.


10 minutes

To close the lesson, I provide time for students to share facts that they learned with one another. I use popsicle sticks with student names written on them to randomly select student partners. I ask the partners to take turns sharing facts with one another. This sharing time serves to cement newly acquired knowledge for students. As they restate and paraphrase information they have collected, they are speaking, listening, and note-taking.

I then bring my class back together and provide time for whole-class sharing.  A video my students sharing facts about power users can be found here.