SPIKE™ Essential

Energy Resources

Sofie finds a wind turbine. She wonders how it gets energy. What are other ways to get energy from nature to use again and again?

45-90 min.
Year 4-6


(NOTE: This lesson contains a Part A and a Part B. Both are important to access the full learning of the curriculum. If time is limited, review both parts to choose elements that meet your pupils’ needs.)

In this lesson, the key learning is through research about energy resources. Building a model of one type of renewable energy resource offers a way for pupils to show their learning. Encourage pupils to use the wind turbine example for inspiration and then to design and build it or another renewable resource of their choice.

  • Science Background - Energy Resources:
    • In this lesson, the model mimics how a wind turbine converts energy from the wind into electricity when the turbine’s blades turn.
    • The light matrix represents how electricity is generated by the rotating blades.
    • A windmill, which may be more familiar to pupils, uses energy from the wind to turn machines that grind flour, for example, but does not produce electricity.
  • Build Prior Knowledge - Energy Resources: Using your core science materials, share information, images and definitions.
    • Review what pupils know about renewable and non-renewable energy resources and about how getting and using these can affect the environment. Pupils will learn more about the topic through this research activity.
    • A wind turbine converts the energy from the wind into electricity. A windmill uses energy from the wind to turn machines that pump water or make flour.
    • Key vocabulary: renewable energy resource, non-renewable energy resource, fossil fuel, wind turbine, environment
  • Building and Programming Experience: Review the suggestions in the Unit Plan. For this lesson, you may also want to
    • Reinforce with the Motor and Light tutorials in the SPIKE App Start menu.
    • Use the Event, Light and Motor Blocks sections of the Help>Word Blocks menu in the SPIKE App to provide more support.
    • Use the provided white USB cable to connect hubs and devices to make the program more stable. This will enable pupils to better see the data that show how the speed of the blades affects the light’s brightness and how this is similar to a turbine creating less or more electricity from wind.
  • Materials: Locate images of windmills and wind turbines in order to distinguish these for pupils. Locate age-appropriate suitable research resources about renewable and non-renewable resources (e.g., solar, wind, nuclear and fossil fuels), human uses of these, and their environmental impacts. Consider how to integrate the resources in the lesson.

PART A (45 minutes)


(Whole Class, 10 minutes)

  • Introduce the story’s main character(s) and the first challenge: Sofie finds a wind turbine. She wonders how it gets energy. What are other ways to get energy to use again and again?

  • THINK – Facilitate a brief discussion about the lesson topic(s), using the story picture if you wish.

    • What kind of energy resource is wind? Why? (Wind is a renewable resource; there is always more wind.)
    • What makes energy renewable? Give some examples. (We can make or get more because nature replenishes it; wind energy, flowing water in rivers, sunlight.)
    • What makes energy non-renewable? Give some examples. (It can be used up, with no way to get more; examples include fossil fuels like oil, natural gas and coal and materials like uranium for nuclear energy.)
    • How does using different kinds of energy change the environment? (Building dams replaces animal habitats, mining can destroy the surface of land, burning fossil fuels causes air pollution.)
  • Distribute a SPIKE Essential Set and a device to each group.


(Small Groups, 25 minutes)

  • As pupils work, consider sharing the examples below, clarifying that they show a model of/program for a wind turbine that uses wind energy to generate electricity. Pupils may build a turbine or another chosen renewable energy resource.

  • Have pupils:

    • Use at least two sources to research both renewable and non-renewable energy resources, including how people use the resources and how this affects the environment. (Review classroom best practices for research.)
    • Choose one renewable resource.
    • Begin to BUILD and PROGRAM a model of one energy renewable resource to show their learning.
  • Facilitate brainstorming about using LEGO® elements in their models. For the wind turbine, this might include using long pieces as fan blades or programming the light matrix to come on when the blades are turned by hand. Pupils use their hands to spin the blades and can spin them faster or slower to see different outcomes from the matrix light.

Example Ideas

SPIKE Essential Energy Resources - en-gb


(Whole Class, 10 minutes)

  • Gather pupils for sharing. 

  • Have each group use their progress model to demonstrate and explain:

    • How it shows a renewable energy resource.
    • How people use this type of energy resource.
    • Positive and negative ways that using their chosen renewable resource affects the environment compared with non-renewable resources.
  • Elicit sharing about pupils progress and encourage pupils to use inspiration from shared ideas.

  • If you wish to continue in Part B – Explain, have pupils keep their models intact or allow time for rebuilding.

PART B (45 minutes)


(Whole Class, 10 minutes)

  • Repeat the steps from Part A – Explain to support additional sharing, brainstorming and inspiration for continued model building.


(Whole Class, 30 minutes)

  • Have pupils:

    • (15 min) Continue to BUILD and PROGRAM their model of a renewable energy resource like wind.
    • (10 min) Use their completed models to share and exchange learning about renewable and non-renewable energy resources.
  • (5 min) Invite pupils to share knowledge, ideas or skills that

    • Helped them complete the challenge.
    • They learned while doing research and designing their models.
  • Have pupils clean up the sets and work areas.


(Whole Class, 5 minutes)

  • Ask guiding questions to elicit pupils’ thinking and their decisions while developing ideas, building and programming.

Observation Checklist

  • Review the learning objectives (Teacher Support box).
  • Use the checklist to observe pupils’ progress:
    • They choose at least two sources for research.
    • They accurately describe renewable and non-renewable energy resources.
    • They accurately explain where their energy resource comes from and how people use it.
    • They describe some positive and negative effects on the environment caused by getting and using their chosen renewable energy resource vs. non-renewable resources.
    • They build and program an accurate model of their chosen renewable energy resource.


Have each pupil choose the brick that they feel best represents their performance。

  • Blue brick: I think I can follow instructions to create a program.
  • Yellow brick: I can follow instructions to create a program.
  • Green brick: I can follow instructions to create a program, and I can help a friend do it too.

Peer Feedback

In their small groups, have your pupils discuss their experiences working together.
Encourage them to use statements like these:

  • I liked it when you…
  • I’d like to hear more about how you…


Simplify this lesson by:

  • Reducing the research task to a limited list of renewable and non-renewable energy resources.

Increase the difficulty by:

  • Having pupils increase the complexity of their model. For the turbine, this could include changing the colour of the light based on the direction the blade turns, e.g., red when the blades turn left and blue when they turn right. They can also program the blades to move at different speeds to simulate various wind speeds.

Cross-curricular Learning

Have pupils research ways in which humans can reduce the negative impacts of using renewable and/or non-renewable energy resources on the environment. Have them share their findings through a brief video or written document of their choosing.

If facilitated, this will extend beyond the 45-minute lesson.

Teacher Support

Pupils will:

  • Use research to explain how humans use renewable and non-renewable energy resources from nature.
  • Use research to describe the positive and negative effects on the environment of using renewable vs. non-renewable resources.
  • Build a model to show one renewable energy resource.

(one for every two pupils)

  • LEGO® Education SPIKE Essential Set
  • Device with the LEGO Education SPIKE App installed
  • See Prepare - Materials

Key Stage 2 Geography

Describe and understand key aspects of human geography, including the distribution of natural resources including energy.

Year 4 Living things and their habitats

  • Pupils should explore examples of human impact (both positive and negative) on environments, for example, the positive effects of nature reserves, ecologically planned parks, or garden ponds, and the negative effects of population and development, litter or deforestation.

English Cross-curricular Learning

  • Year 3 and 4 Reading (comprehension)
  • non-fiction
  • Year 3 and 4 Writing (composition)

Pupil Material

Student Worksheet

Download, view or share as an online HTML page or a printable PDF.