Solar Updraft Towers Unit Overview

Solar Updraft Tower
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Intended Grade Level(s):
Learning Goal(s):
  1. Students will understand ten renewable and non-renewable energy sources on the earth.
  2. Students will learn the locations of different energy sources on the earth.
  3. Students will learn the history of energy sources and how humans have used them.
  4. Students will learn about innovations and inventions used to find, recover, store, and release energy for human consumption.
  5. Students will understand that hot air rises
  6. Students will understand why hot water and hot air rise and cold air and cold water sink.
  7. Students will learn that wind is produced by warm air rising and cold air sinking.
  8. Students will learn that the energy of moving hot air can be converted into other forms of energy.
  9. Students will understand that energy from the sun can be converted into heat.
  10. Students will discuss the effects of the chimney stack phenomenon.
  11. Students will understand that wind energy can be converted into other forms of energy.
  12. Students will determine different methods to increase the effectiveness of a wind turbine blade by harnessing and converting the mechanical energy of the wind.
  13. Students will determine that thermal energy resulting from the sun’s radiation can create an updraft that will power a turbine to spin.                                       
  14. Students will identify characteristics of turbine design that improve the success of their device.
  15. Students will utilize content from previous phenomena they investigated, such as the chimney stack effect and Norwegian candle toys, to determine how to best harness the energy transformed by their device from the sun.
  16. Students will be able to define and explain what a solar updraft tower is.
  17. Students will make connections between their previous engineering challenge and a real world solution to the world’s growing energy demands.
Estimated Activity Length:
10 hours
Files Associated with this Activity:

Students will combine research, direct observations, and hands-on investigation to lead them into an engineering design project involving the construction of a solar updraft tower.  During this process, students will make references to specific phenomena they witnessed in the classroom involving convection currents, solar energy, energy generation, and energy transformations involved in these processes.  These specific phenomena will be investigated individually and serve as tools to pull design ideas for their final projects

Other Material(s) Used:
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