To see descriptions of all available curriculum by grade, click here. To download a PDF of all available units, click here.

Hot Pack

Unit Plan - Chemical Differences in Emergency Energy Sources

Grades:
7-8
Description:
Students develop atomic and molecular models of energy resources, analyze combustion of various fuels and build circuits with Photovolatic (PV) modules to evaluate and suggest revisions to a disaster preparedness supply list. They then research and evaluate...
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Learning Goal(s):
To build empathy for people in emergency situations and an understanding of how access to energy resources can increase one’s safety, health, and comfort. To understand the nature of a variety of energy needs and how different applications have different optimal solutions. To develop models to explain the molecular and extended structures of energy resources, including how the resources change when energy is generated (Electron movement in PV cells, combustion reactions in fuel). To understand that the properties of substances depends upon the atomic / molecular structure, which changes with chemical reactions. To build a circuit that includes a solar module and measure the voltage and current. To gather and evaluate information to describe the impact on society of converting natural resources into PV cells. To design, build and test a device that uses a chemical reaction to generate or absorb thermal energy. Evaluate and revise a plan for the energy resources one should store to prepare for a natural disaster. 
Author:
Melody Childers
Estimated Activity Length:
0 sec
Earth Sun

The Amazing Cardboard Cook-O-Matic

Grades:
3-5
Lesson Number:
2
Description:
The purpose of this lesson is to introduce the students to the concept of solar ovens and cooking with energy from the sun.
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Learning Goal(s):
At the end of this lesson students will understand that the sun can be used to cook food. They will also be introduced to the basic components required to build a successful solar oven.
Pedagogy & Practice:
Author:
Lisa Morgan
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour
Earth Sun

Our Sensational Sun

Grades:
3-5
Lesson Number:
3
Description:
The purpose of this lesson is to record information that the students learn about the sun on a chart. This chart will be used for the entire unit. It will serve as a good reference for guiding the lessons and providing information for student research.
Energy Content:
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Learning Goal(s):
At the end of this lesson, students will have written numerous facts about the sun that they 1) already know, 2) want to know and 3) have learned.
Pedagogy & Practice:
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:
Author:
Lisa Morgan
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
30 min
Earth Sun

Saving Lives with Solar Ovens

Grades:
3-5
Lesson Number:
4
Description:
Students will be introduced to Solar Cookers International. Students will learn about different solar cooker designs and how they function. Students will learn the pros and cons on the use of solar ovens in developing countries. Students will gain an...
Energy Content:
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will learn about different solar cooker designs and how they function. Students will learn the customs, jobs, food and clothing of people in different countries of Africa.
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:
Author:
Lisa Morgan
Estimated Activity Length:
50 min
Earth Sun

Individual Independent Projects

Grades:
3-5
Lesson Number:
12
Description:
The purpose of this lesson is to allow students to choose an area of interest regarding solar power and research it further in a manner of their choice. Students will produce a final product to display or share at the “Salute to the Sun” culminating event at...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will plan, gather research materials and create a project of their choice. In doing so student will learn proper research methods (i.e., reliable sources) and how to categorize and translate information. In addition students will become comfortable and familiar presenting information to others. Lastly, students will also learn how to create a rubric for self evaluation.
Author:
Lisa Morgan
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
10 hours
Solar Car Student

Solar Car Challenge: Team Brainstorm

Grades:
6-8
Lesson Number:
4
Description:
Students will play around with the solar car kits to familiarize themselves with the materials in preparation for the solar car engineering challenge.
Energy Content:
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Learning Goal(s):
To introduce students to the problem that this project will attempt to solve: building a solar car that will go straight, far, and fast to win a race.
Author:
Karen Nelson
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
50 min
Solar Mobile

Solar Mobile Design Challenge Unit Plan

Grades:
6-8
Description:
This unit involves students learning about transferring solar energy to small motors, exploring the center of gravity and testing light sources (including the sun). The culminating engineering design project gives students the chance to pull together their...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will design circuits using various solar panels in order to power motors with propellers. Students will learn about solar energy transfer in order to power the motors on their solar aircraft.Students will research an aircraft and draw an outline of the aircraft onto foam board. Students will explore the concept of center of gravity. Students will test the efficiency of various light sources (incandescent, fluorescent, LED, halogen) for usage by a PV cell.Students will use their prior testing results and knowledge to engineer a solar-powered mobile. Students will work to transfer the most energy from the solar panels considering all the tested variables in order to power the fastest, most efficient mobile.Students will demonstrate and explain why their solar mobile should be chosen for the solar mobile display in the children’s museum. 
Author:
Kristy Schneider
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
0 sec
Solar Mobile

Exploring Circuits and Optimum Power

Grades:
6-8
Lesson Number:
2
Description:
This lesson is an exploratory learning cycle that will give the instructor input as to where students are in their understanding of circuits and also scaffolds student learning. This lesson starts by engaging students by using an Energy Stick. Then, students...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students build series circuits using “grain of wheat bulb” and LEDs powered by various low voltage solar panels. Students build parallel circuits using grain of wheat and LED bulbs powered by various low voltage solar panels. Students demonstrate and draw the energy transfer using solar energy. Students draw a circuit diagram of their final optimal circuit. Students design an optimal circuit model that will be used in their final project. 
Author:
Kristy Schneider
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
3 hours
Solar Mobile

Exploring Center of Gravity

Grades:
6-8
Lesson Number:
3
Description:
Since the concept Center of Gravity (mass) is a key factor in a mobile, students will participate in some activities to help them experience and understand this principle so it can be applied to their final Solar Mobile design. This lesson starts with a...
Energy Content:
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will observe a discrepant event and write down questions about what they observed. Students will participate in a variety of activities using a meter stick in order to experience and learn about center of gravity.Students will find the center of gravity of an irregular shaped paper object by using a plumb line. Students will apply the concept of Center of Gravity and find the center of their solar aircraft that is to be used on their solar mobile. 
Author:
Kristy Schneider
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours
Solar Mobile

Solar Mobile Design Challenge - Construction

Grades:
6-8
Lesson Number:
5
Description:
This is the culminating hands-on project for the Solar Mobile Design Challenge Lessons, with construction aligned to an engineering design process. Students start by Restating the Design Problem that was introduced to them in the beginning of the Unit. Next,...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students brainstorm ideas and share with their group.Students draw and label Solar Mobile designs in Engineering Notebooks. Students research an aircraft to trace (if this was not accomplished in the Center of Gravity lesson) and trace the aircraft outline onto foam board. Students construct a solar circuit to power motors and propellers on a foam board aircraft and test multiple times before adding to the solar mobile stand. Students construct solar mobile stand and add their aircraft to a dowel attached to the central hub. Students work with a partner to balance each aircraft onto the mobile. Students test the mobile speed outside (depending on weather) and compare to speed under indoor light stands. After initial testing, students redesign circuits or mobile construction to optimize design. Students use hand-held devices to film their moving Mobiles to judge the machine’s speed. Students demonstrate how their Solar Mobile works and justify in writing why their mobile should be chosen for the Children’s Technology Museum. 
Author:
Kristy Schneider
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
6 hours