It’s All About Power

Author: Sylvia Kniest

Time: 1 class period
Prepare action plans for groups
Materials: action plans


Students will explore what they already know about the legislative process by discussing a current issue dealing with energy policy. Through this discussion students will further understand the role of government and how it affects their quality of life.

Students will be able to:
1. Identify and list the groups that create energy policy.
2. Explain the role of citizens in influencing the creation of policy.

National Standards For Civics and Government
III-E. How does the American political system provide for choice and opportunities for participation?
V. What are the roles of the citizen in American Democracy?

Teacher Background
Prepare to discuss the role that interest groups, citizens, and lawmakers have on the making of government policy (legislation).

Resource Websites



1. Make the following announcement to the class:
The government has decided to build a coal power plant near your neighborhood.
Show a photo of the countryside where the power plant will be built. A suggested web site of a photo: http://www.lindasphotogallery.com/images/Wellsboro_Autumn_in_the_Countryside.jpg
Next show a photo of a power plant. A suggested web site of a photo:

2. Have students discuss and list the positive and negative aspects of having a coal power plant in their backyard by creating a “T” chart.

3. As a class, discuss whether the government should build the plant in their area (refer back to the photograph). What is necessary to have at the site of a coal power plant (water? Type of land? Etc?)

4. Ask the students:
As citizens, what can we do if we do not want the power plant?

5. Where do the power plants in your community exist? Is the plant near residential neighborhoods? Lower income housing is often closer than more suburban housing. Talk with the students about the location of industry in areas where residents may not have as much power.

6. Have students work in pairs to create an action plan to stop the building of the coal power plant.

What is the purpose?
List your rationale:
List techniques/strategies you will use:
Who can help you? Identify groups or individuals who you should contact.

Groups share action plans while the teacher records student responses on an overhead.
Discuss: What groups and individuals have an impact on legislative policy? Do we, as private citizens have any influence on the process?

Embedded Assessment
Class discussion and creation of the “T” charts as well as the student action plans.


Embedded Assessment

PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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