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ESL Intermediate (+) Lesson Plan – The Power of Pee

Updated on April 10, 2015

ESL Intermediate Lesson Plan - The Power of Pee


Warm Up

  • 'One man's trash is another man's treasure'. What do you think this means?
  • Can you give any examples of this proverb?
  • Can you think of any benefits of using urine?



Did you know that 6.4 trillion litres of pee are produced globally each year by humans? That's a lot of liquid! What if we could harness the power of pee and do something useful with it, instead of flushing it down the toilet?

Charge your phone with it!

The idea is not as crazy as you might think. Researchers from the University of Bristol have concluded that urine-powered fuel cells are possible and are looking at ways to power businesses, small villages and homes. They are especially interested in the 38 billion litres of farm animal waste that are produced every year. These scientists are hoping to exploit the power of pee and reduce environmental damage at the same time.

Make music with it!

Across the pond in Brazil, an NGO called AfroReggae created the first carnival music truck powered by urine. During the Carnival festivities, revellers tend to urinate in the streets, leaving an intense stench that lasts for days. To change this bad behaviour, the NGO built special urinals and placed them in parts of the city. Energy from urine is generated in a process that is similar to a hydroelectric power-plant. When the party-goers relieved themselves in the 'Electric Pee' urinals, it rotated the turbines and generated energy, which was then stored in batteries. The more people urinated in the right place, the more music they were guaranteed.

Drink it!

Not only is urine used on earth, but it is even being used in outer space. A new filtration system called The Forward Osmosis bag was designed for NASA to give astronauts another source of drinking water. Waste water, such as sweat and urine, can easily be turned into drinking water. The manufacturers of this bag have also created one that is suitable for use back home on earth. This lifesaving filter obstructs contaminants from any dirty water and can be used in disaster situations or for soldier hydration.

Live with it!

Meanwhile, over in Japan, a small building called The Barn House won an award for its sustainability and uniqueness. It is a home big enough for 2 adults and 2 horses and it is heated by the pee of the horses. The horses' urine is added to a natural fuel made from sawdust, dried and aired outside, and used to heat the house.

Discussion Questions

  1. Which power of pee idea do you like the best and why?
  2. Have you ever heard of any other uses of urine?
  3. Would you power your smart phone at night with pee if the technology existed?
  4. Do you have any ideas about how animal waste could be used for something beneficial?
  5. If you went to Carnival and you really needed to go to the toilet, would you go in the street?
  6. If you really needed to go to the bathroom, and a regular urinal was right beside you, but an Electric Pee urinal was 500 metres away, which would you choose?
  7. Would you ever drink your own pee? In what situation?
  8. How do you think the astronauts feel about drinking their own urine?
  9. The architects who built the Barn House wanted to combine human and animal environments. How would you feel about having 2 horses living in the ground floor of your home?
  10. If we all had to live with animals and use their pee to heat our homes, which animal would you choose?


Pair Work

Look at the list below. The bullet points contain information on how urine is/was used, but there are 2 that are not true. Decide with your partner which 2 are wrong and give reasons.

  • Toothpaste
  • Used to grow teeth.
  • Used to cool down machine guns in World War 1.
  • Gunpowder.
  • An ingredient used in beer-making in the Middle Ages.
  • Gas masks during World War 1.
  • Clothes detergent.
  • Used to dye clothes.
  • Used to remove nail varnish.
  • Used to clean wounds in war.
  • Infertility medication.
  • Garden fertiliser.

Vocabulary Match - Match the definitions to the words

a supply of something that is kept for use later.
people who attend parties.
fuel cells
formal way of saying urinate.
a bowl that men urinate into in a public toilet.
make use of and benefit from a resource.
tend to
small particles of wood.
make water flow down the toilet.
make use of a natural resource to make energy.
are likely to do something
a really bad smell.
someone who is enjoying themselves in a noisy or lively way.
tend to
a device that turns chemical energy of a fuel into electricity.

Gap Fill

Use the vocabulary above in the correct form.

  1. The squirrel __________ its food before winter.
  2. We use a combination of organic materials in the compost toilet – dry leaves and ____________.
  3. The streets are full of _______________ on New Year's Eve. It's a crazy time.
  4. You should train your dog to ___________ itself in the field, not in the middle of the footpath!
  5. Those public __________ stink! I would never go there.
  6. My grandmother didn't believe in modern medicine. She used to ___________ her pills down the lavatory.
  7. This country should be _____________ its natural resources and exporting power across Europe, rather than importing it.
  8. The amount of electricity the _____________ produces depends on its size.

Other Lesson Plans

When it comes to getting work, why not try thinking outside the box? This ESL lesson plan – Unusual Jobs will get your students talking and thinking about their careers. This lesson plan contains jobs that they've probably never even considered. Heavy emphasis on speaking activities.

Speaking Activity

Put students in groups of 4 or 5. Have them discuss the list below. They must invent ways of reusing the items listed. Then vote to see which team has the best ideas.

  • Old DVDs or CDs.
  • Old socks and underwear.
  • Tyres.
  • Empty tins and cans of food.
  • Newspapers and magazines.
  • Coffee grounds.
  • Plastic bottles.


Pair Work - The 2 untrue uses:

Used to remove nail varnish.

An ingredient used in beer-making in the Middle Ages.

Vocabulary Match

  • a supply of something that is kept for use later - stored
  • people who attend parties - party-goers
  • formal way of saying urinate - relieved
  • a bowl that men urinate into in a public toilet - urinals
  • make use of and benefit from a resource - exploit
  • small particles of wood - sawdust
  • make water flow down the toilet - flushing
  • make use of a natural resource to make energy - harness
  • a device that turns chemical energy of a fuel into electricity – fuel cell
  • a really bad smell - stench
  • someone who is enjoying themselves in a noisy or lively way - revellers
  • are likely to do something – tend to

Gap Fill

  1. stores
  2. sawdust
  3. party-goers/revellers
  4. relieve
  5. urinals
  6. flush
  7. exploiting/harnessing
  8. fuel cell

Credited sources:

© 2015 Muttface


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