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

Manipulating Design Variables on Solar Heaters

Grades:
6-8
Lesson Number:
2
Description:
Part 2 builds on part 1, asking students to design a solar heater that more effectively collects solar energy. Students are provided with various building supplies and are asked to change one variable from the standard to construct a new, more effective solar...
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Creating the Most Effective Solar Heater

Grades:
6-8
Lesson Number:
3
Description:
This part can be staged as a competition or simply a personal challenge to beat the standard solar heater created in part 1. During this stage of the lesson students are asked to analyze data and results from part 2 and identify which characteristics of a...
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Learning Goal(s):
In this activity students demonstrate the ability to evaluate competing solutions to the problem of increasing the heat energy transferred to a vial of water.
Author:
Nathan Franck
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour
Energy Transformations

Introduction to Energy

Grades:
7-8
Lesson Number:
1
Description:
This lesson will introduce students to each of the different types of energy using PowerPoint slides, partner activities, and hands-on experiences with different kinds of energy including: batteries (chemical), electrical circuits (electrical), motors (motion...
Energy Content:
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Learning Goal(s):
• Students will be able to name and describe at least 5 kinds of energy • Students will be able to identify and explain simple energy transformations
Author:
Craig Marais
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours
Kill-A-Watt_Meter

How much energy do YOU use?

Grades:
7-8
Lesson Number:
3
Description:
Students will learn the difference between energy and power. They will then use this new understanding to compare the energy and power difference of light bulbs (incandescent, halogen, fluorescent, and LED) using a tool called a “Kill-A-Watt” meter. Students...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will be able to: • Explain the difference between power and energy • Proficiently use a “Kill-A-Watt” meter to determine the power and total energy usage of everyday devices • Compare the total energy used by common household devices • Brainstorm different ways we can conserve electrical energy
Author:
Craig Marais
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
0 sec

Constructing a Solar-Powered MintyBoost USB Charger

Grades:
6-8
Description:
Students will receive a background on solar energy, solar energy applications, and electrical circuit components. Students will then apply these concepts to a Home Energy Consumption worksheet and the construction of a Solar Module MintyBoost USB Charger,...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will gain a background on solar energy and be able to apply terms such as solar modules, photovoltaics, and solar power. Students will gain a background on electrical circuit components and be able to apply terms such as capacitor, resistor, diode, alternating and direct current, amps, inductor, volts, and watts. Through the completion of the Home Energy Consumption worksheet, students will determine their family’s monthly energy consumption and calculate the monthly dollar cost for household items such as light bulbs, game consoles, and televisions. Students will demonstrate their understanding of solar energy and electrical circuits through the construction of a Solar Module MintyBoost USB Charger and a presentation of their own unique product that utilizes the solar charger.
Author:
Deb Frankel
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
10 hours