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

Solar Thermal Jug

Passive Solar Water Heating

Grades:
6-12
Lesson Number:
1
Description:
Students retrofit milk jugs to absorb and retain the most solar energy. This process involves students collecting data that measures the impacts of different variables on the solar energy absorbed by each collection device. Students should be able to see...
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Learning Goal(s):
1. Students will cover/manipulate milk jugs to achieve the most solar energy absorption. 2. Students will calculate the joules of energy absorbed by the solar heated water. 3. Students will measure and graph the temperature changes of their solar milk jugs. 4. Students will gain an understanding of the amount of energy in sunlight.
Author:
Tami Church
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours
Compost Heater

Compost Bioreactor Design

Grades:
7-12
Lesson Number:
2
Description:
Solar energy is available when the sun shines but energy can be supplemented at night by the release of energy during the composting of organic waste. In this activity, we will experiment with the feasibility of harnessing thermal energy to heat water with a...
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Learning Goal(s):
1. Students will research the science of composting and proper maintenance methods to build their own bioreactor. 2. Students will research the proper composition of compost for maximum heat production. 3. Students will transfer the thermal energy in compost to a container of water heat water with by placing a vessel in the middle of the active compost/bioreactor.
Author:
Tami Church
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours
Wort Chiller

Bioreactor Water Circulation System

Grades:
7-12
Lesson Number:
3
Description:
Solar energy is available when the sun shines but energy can be supplemented at night by the decomposition energy in a bioreactor. In this activity we will experiment with the feasibility of using heated water in a bioreactor to circulate it through a water...
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Learning Goal(s):
1. Students will examine the properties of solar water pumping systems using KidWind solar water pumps or similar water pumps. 2. Students will experiment with the properties of water and its limitations in circulating due to pump power and distance. 3. Students will evaluate the use of a heat sink/chiller in the circulation of water through the bioreactor.
Author:
Tami Church
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
4 hours
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
Dye in Water

Developing a Model of Thermal Energy, Atoms, and Molecules

Grades:
6-8
Lesson Number:
2
Description:
Through a series of exploration and inquiry activities, students will explain kinetic molecular theory, atomic, and molecular structures. Students will be challenged to gradually increase the precision of their explanation of molecular-level structures and...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will develop a model through collaborative inquiry to explain thermal kinetic energy and predict the outcome when heat is added to a substance. Students will build argumentation from evidence skills through collaborative sense-making and gallery walk presentations. Students will develop a model of atomic and molecular structures.  
Author:
Melody Childers
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
9 hours
Fuel Inquiry Poster

Fuels and PV Cells

Grades:
7-8
Lesson Number:
3
Description:
Students will return to the phenomena of energy resources to support safety, health, and comfort in an emergency situation. They will distinguish between how common materials provide energy and develop an understanding of how the atomic and molecular...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students explore the conservation of mass in chemical reactions by observing and modeling combustion reactions and exploring the essential question/phenomena, “is all fire the same?” Students will use information resources and a 3D model of a PV cell to understand how solar modules generate electricity. “How do PV cells make electricity?”Students will construct circuits to explore PV modules and variables involved in powering devices. Students evaluate, revise, and justify the energy resources suggested on an emergency preparedness supply list. 
Author:
Melody Childers
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
0 sec
Hot Pack

Engineering a Hot Pack

Grades:
7-8
Lesson Number:
5
Description:
Through a series of inquiry activities, students will discover the properties of the chemical reaction of dissolving CaCl 2 in water, the effect of stirring, and of adding baking soda and sodium polyacrylate crystals. Once initial data is collected, students...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will collect data to characterize a chemical reaction Students will identify the criteria and constraints of an engineering challenge. Students will design and build a hot pack that meets the criteria of the project. Students will collect data to support their proposed design. 
Author:
Melody Childers
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
5 hours
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

Heat Transfer

Grades:
3-5
Lesson Number:
7
Description:
Students will observe that heat naturally spreads from warmer places to cooler places and that some materials spread (conduct) heat and others keep it from spreading (insulate).
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will observe how some materials conduct heat and others insulate heat.
Pedagogy & Practice:
Author:
Lisa Morgan
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
30 min
Wadsworth OH thumbnail

Let's Build Sun Ovens

Grades:
3-5
Lesson Number:
9
Description:
The purpose of this lesson is to introduce the students to three different styles of inexpensive solar ovens. Students will work together to build a File Box oven, an auto shade/bucket oven and a “Copenhagen” style oven. Students will follow written...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will follow written directions and use what they have learned about necessary components of a solar oven to build three different ovens in small groups.
Author:
Lisa Morgan
Estimated Activity Length:
3 hours

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