MnSTEP Teaching Activity Collection > MnSTEP Activities > Power Generation Town Council

Power Generation Town Council

Thane Lewis
Minnesota Public Schools
504 Monroe
Minnesota, MN 56264
Author Profile


Students will work in groups to role play a town hall meeting to select a power generation system for a small town.

Learning Goals

  • Students will learn and implement decision making processes used by governmental agencies
  • Students will work together to create persuasive proposals based on factual data and evidence
  • Students will develop critical thinking and questioning skills while evaluating real-world problems

Context for Use

Students should have completed a presentation project on a type of electrical power generation system including site requirements, environmental concerns, waste, economics and generating capacity.

Subject: Environmental Science:Energy:Renewable & Alternative Energy
Resource Type: Activities:Lab Activity, Classroom Activity
Grade Level: High School (9-12)
Theme: Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Environmental Science

Description and Teaching Materials

Minnesota Map including Frostbite Falls (Microsoft Word 796kB Jul26 07)

The small town of Frostbite Falls Minnesota is going to be removed from the power distribution grid of their current electricity provider for economic reasons. The townsfolk have two options:
  1. Fold up shop and move elsewhere
  2. Develop their own electricity generation facility and continue living where they are.

The town council is soliciting proposals from firms that can design, install and implement a power generation system for the town. The town council will be holding open meetings to view proposals and ask questions of the designers. Important ecological concerns for the town include great fishing on a local river with a 45 foot waterfall, forestry and a local hot spring. In addition, the town is on a windswept bluff with a majestic view of the surrounding forests and plains.
It is assumed that all potential power generation schemes are feasible except for tidal barrage hydroelectric. Total generation capacity for all of Frostbite Falls' needs is approximately 310mW.

Day one
  1. Explain the scenario to the class and that their job will be to elect a town council, and make the presentations to the town council for consideration.
  2. Elect a town council of 3-5 individuals depending on class size. The teacher's role in this entire process is "Sergeant at arms" to keep the meetings civil. The teacher should remain outside of the process unless points of order need to be clarified.
  3. The town council will elect a mayor from their ranks to be the chair of the meetings
  4. Group students according to the type of power generation system they researched prior to this activity. Wind, coal, nuclear, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, natural gas, biomass, etc.
  5. Power generation groups should work together to develop their presentations to the city council. They need to be prepared to make a good case for why they chose a particular method of generating electricity and to address any concerns or questions that the town council may have. Cost per kwh, total project cost, and needed generation capacity should also be included in the proposal. Student groups may elect to modify their presentations from the earlier research for their presentation to the town council.
  6. The town council will develop their list of questions and sequence of groups to call for presentations.

Day Two
  1. The town council calls the meeting to order and calls the groups one at a time to make their presentation to the people of Frostbite Falls. The town council members should each ask questions of the presenters to clarify the proposal or to identify deficiencies in the proposals.
  2. After all proposals and public comment have been heard, the town council will move into open discussion of the proposals. If they are able, they should announce their decision whether to proceed or to disband the town.
  3. Discuss the process with the class.
    • Was it easy to develop proposals that met the needs of the town?
    • How did the participants feel the council handled the meeting?
    • Is this sort of activity easy for towns to go through?
    • How can towns and cities better prepare themselves for meeting the needs of their citizens?
  4. Students should write a reflection essay on the activity including their thoughts and opinions about the applicability of this activity in their lives.

Teaching Notes and Tips

The Teacher's primary role is to keep the meeting moving and to provide advice as the town council runs the meeting.


Student participation and reflection are the primary assessment tools for this activity. Judge the level of participation based on contribution to group work and presentation.


9.II.C(1-9)Energy Transformations

References and Resources