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

Design a 50 Year Energy Plan

50 Year Energy Plan - Unit Plan

Grades:
9-12
Description:
Throughout this creative, hands-on Unit, students are challenged to scale up every Disciplinary Core Idea and Science & Engineering Practice they’ve learned - from simple electricity generation, to building their own stereo speakers and DIY electric...
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Learning Goal(s):
Explore causes and effects of climate change as related to energy production. Develop a working understanding of varying stakeholder perspectives on the causes and effects of climate change. Through hands-on exploration, build a working speaker that can connect to a cellphone. Use DIY speakers as a model to observe the process of producing electrical currents with a simple generator. Design, build and refine a wind turbine to efficiently convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. Design, build and refine a system that is the most effective at converting the sunlight into electrical energy. Students develop models to study the relationship between the Earth’s atmospheric composition and the Earth’s surface temperatures using simple diagrams. Students reflect on the impact of energy sources and power production on the environment. Students utilize their knowledge of how energy generation processes impacts the environment to inform how and why they develop a 50-year Energy Plan for their local community. 
Author:
Bradford Hill
Estimated Activity Length:
0 sec
Design a 50 Year Energy Plan

Diving into the Physics of Motors and Generators

Grades:
9-12
Lesson Number:
2
Description:
Using energy analysis and some tinkering students hand wind speakers to play music from a phone. This acts as a phenomenon to engage students in the exploration of electromagnetism. At this point, they have created a motor, which utilizes electric current to...
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Learning Goal(s):
1. Through hands-on exploration, create a working speaker for a cellphone. 2. Use the creation of a speaker to observe as a model for the process of generating electrical current in a simple generator/motor. 
Author:
Bradford Hill
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
5 hours
Kidwind Small Water Pump

Exploring Solar Powered Water Pumps

Grades:
3-5
Lesson Number:
4
Description:
Students explore with a solar cell and a pump to discover how to make the pump run. They will hypothesize and informally test whether they can make the pump run faster or slower.
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will make observations about how a solar cell needs to be set up to push water through a pump and hypothesize about how energy is changing form as the pump runs.
Pedagogy & Practice:
Author:
Leah Gorman
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour
Solar Circuit

How the Amount of Light Affects a Solar Cell

Grades:
6-8
Unit:
Lesson Number:
1
Description:
Students will cover portions of a solar cell and measure the output with a multimeter. They will compare and contrast the outputs of different percentages shaded and different configurations using the same percentage shaded.
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Author:
Todd Freiboth
Estimated Activity Length:
40 min
Solar Circuit

How Light Intensity Affects Solar Cell Output

Grades:
6-8
Unit:
Lesson Number:
2
Description:
Students will expose solar cells to a light source from different distances and measure the output with a multimeter. They will compare and contrast the outputs that the different distances produce.
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Learning Goal(s):
After the completion of this lab, students will be able to describe how the light intensity affects solar cell output, have practiced using a multimeter, and have analyzed collected data.
Author:
Todd Freiboth
Estimated Activity Length:
40 min
Solar Circuit

How Tilt Angle Affects Solar Cell Output

Grades:
6-8
Unit:
Lesson Number:
3
Description:
Students will expose solar cells to a light source from a set distance and measure the output with a multimeter. Students will change the angle that the light source strikes the solar panel and measure the resultant output. They will compare and contrast the...
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Learning Goal(s):
After the completion of this lab, students will be able to describe how the angle of light exposure affects solar cell output, have practiced using a multimeter, and have analyzed collected data.
Author:
Todd Freiboth
Estimated Activity Length:
40 min
Lead Acid Battery

Solar Battery Charging

Grades:
7-12
Description:
Students will become familiar with circuits, cells, batteries, and photovoltaic cells, then plan, build, test, modify, and re-test a small solar battery charger designed to maintain batteries from a particular device.
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will build series, parallel, and parallel series circuits from a schematic diagram. Students will master the basic concept of battery charging. Students will be able to plan and build solar battery chargers for a given battery system. Intermediate students will calculate time to charge a depleted battery to its full capacity given specifications of a solar module. Students will be able to explain how a solar cell works with diagrams and words. Students will use a digital multi-meter to measure voltage, current, resistance, and diode polarity.
Author:
Luke Robbins
Estimated Activity Length:
9 hours
Constructing Solar Panels

Solar Panel Construction, Orientation and Use Unit

Grades:
9-12
Description:
For this extended task, students will track the sun's altitude and Azimuth to determine the best position for their hand-built solar panel, learn solar cell operation basics, solar panel construction, series and parallel circuitry and basic array sizing.
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Learning Goal(s):
Modeling and data analysis
Pedagogy & Practice:
Author:
James Mulanax
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
10 hours
Solar Rooftop

Introduction to the Photovoltaic Effect

Grades:
9-12
Lesson Number:
1
Description:
This lesson begins with basic chemistry with regards to atomic structure. The lesson then moves to understanding the special properties of silicon as a photoelectric semi- conductor. Building on this, the basic structure of photovoltaic solar cells is...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will be able to describe the basic structure of a photovoltaic solar cell. Students will be able to outline or summarize how solar cells produce electricity. Students will be able to explain why silicon, boron and phosphorous are most often used to construct solar cells.
Pedagogy & Practice:
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:
Author:
Clayton Hudiburg
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour
Solar Rooftop

Macro-Scale Solar

Grades:
9-12
Lesson Number:
2
Description:
This lesson begins with basic chemistry with regards to atomic structure. The lesson then moves to understanding the special properties of silicon as a photoelectric semi- conductor. Building on this, the basic structure of photovoltaic solar cells is...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will be able to describe the basic structure of a photovoltaic solar module implementing the ideas of series and parallel wiring. Students will be able to describe the basic structure of a photovoltaic solar array implementing the ideas of series and parallel wiring. Students will be able to describe the function and necessity of an inverter when using photovoltaic arrays.
Author:
Clayton Hudiburg
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
3 hours

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