Register with GEF for FREE to enjoy these great benefits! 

    • member only contests and raffles

    • sustainability program news and updates

    • significant discounts at GEF Institute

Note: If you have problems registering, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Taking a GEF Institute Course? Login by clicking here.






Join Us

Sign Up for National Green Week!
Please note: Your privacy is very important to GEF. We do not share or sell any of your data.  It is with the sole purpose of providing you with relevant information that GEF will contact you.

Welcome to the Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

Here, you can find free sustainability lessons to use in your class and upload your own lessons to share. Be sure to rate the lessons you use and leave comments for your colleagues!

All of GEF's lessons and programs are offered at no cost.  Become a member to support GEF and enjoy member only benefits! 
Join button_03

Professional Development

GEFinstitute LOGO_WEB GEF Institute offers affordable, online sustainability courses eligible for professional development or academic credit.
Give your resume a boost!

Sponsor a Teacher

Support educators in your community by helping them earn a Certificate in Sustainability or take an online course. Find out more about sponsorship!
Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

This Mine of Mine

Lesson Description:
This activity allows students to explore the formation, geology, recovery, and uses of coal, as well as the reclamation of coal mine sites. using sand, clay, soil, and rocks, students build a miniature plot of land containing coal deposits.
students then learn about the surface mining method of recovering coal from the earth, and practice the method on their plot of land. after the coal is mined, students reclaim the plot of land and discuss how the coal is transported and used.
Lesson Type:
  • Project

Sustainability Topic:
  • Energy

Time Needed:
3 class periods
Standards Addressed:
Primary(Grades K–4) Standard–D: Earth and Space Science
  • Properties of Earth  Materials

Primary–F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
  • Types of resources
  • Changes in environments
  • Science and technology in local challenges

Intermediate (Grades 5–8) Standard–B: Physical Science
  • Transfer of energy
  • Energy is a property of many substances and is associated with heat, light, electricity, mechanical motion, sound,
  • nuclei, and the nature of a chemical.

Intermediate–D: Earth and Space Science
  • Structure of the earth system

Intermediate–E: Science and Technology
  • Understandings about science and technology

Intermediate–F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
  • Personal health
  • Populations, resources, and environments
  • Natural hazards
  • Risks and benefits

Materials Needed:
  • 36 small plastic bowls
  • 36 clear straws
  • 36 plastic spoons
  • 24 large plastic bowls
  • 5 lb. bag of sand
  • 5 lb. bag of small gray pebbles 
  • 5 lb. bag of  small white pebbles
  • 5 lb. bag of topsoil
  • 5 lbs. of clay 
  • 50-100 small pieces of coal, or large black pebbles representing coal
  • 1 small container of grass seed
  • Newspaper to cover work areas
  • Grass, leaves, and twigs,
  • A container to represent a dump trunk or coal car
  • Class set of NEED Elementary Energy Infobooks

  • Coal poster  and coal samples from the American Coal Foundation (202-466-8630)
  • NEED's U.S. Energy Geography - Coal Reserve map at
  • NEED's Primary Energy Stories and More  

School or Group:
National Energy Education Development Project
Contact Email:
Lesson Documents:
application/pdf This Mine of Mine[1].pdf
Located in: Science

The Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse is brought to you in partnership with

Center for Green Schools