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

Sphero SPRK+

Solar SPRK+: Chariot Engineering Design

Grades:
6-8
Unit:
Lesson Number:
5
Description:
Students will work through the engineering design process to build a chariot for their SPRK+ that will carry their solar panels through a maze to a charging station. Students will draft prototypes, test their designs, and make changes to their design based on...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will identify possible design solutions to have a Sphero SPRK+ pull solar panels as a portable power source.Students will work in groups to determine the best possible designs and construct and test these designs with their team.Students will determine the strengths and weaknesses of each design and incorporate these findings into further construction phases.
Author:
Deb Frankel
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours
Sphero SPRK+

Solar SPRK+: Final Challenge and Presentation

Grades:
6-8
Unit:
Lesson Number:
6
Description:
In this lesson, students will navigate through a maze using their SPRK+ in order to reach the solar charging station. Students will redesign their chariot in order to meet the needs of this new maze in order to carry their solar panels to the charging station...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will combine SPRK+ programming with the construction of a compatible chariot in order to guide their SPRK+ “Mars rover” to carry solar panels to a charging station.Students will present a final project to the class that summarizes their knowledge about the scientific background knowledge tied to this project as well as their design and testing process.
Author:
Deb Frankel
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
8 hours
Solar Charger Diagram

Designing a Solar Charger

Grades:
10-12
Lesson Number:
4
Description:
In this lesson, students will further explore the potential and challenges related to using photovoltaics to supplement the power needed to charge batteries in BEVs. Students will be provided with a 12 V lead-acid battery and several 3 V, 1.5 A solar modules...
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Learning Goal(s):
1. Students will explore the role of series and parallel wiring as they pertain to voltage and amperage. 2. Students will explore the processes involved with charging batteries and relate these processes to voltage and amperage. 3. Students will test photovoltaic modules to identify voltage and amperage outputs. 4. Students will design a system of wiring 3 V, 1.5 A modules together as a means to charge a 12 V lead-acid battery 5. Students will predict and test the effectiveness of their designed solar charger.
Author:
Clayton Hudiburg
Estimated Activity Length:
4 hours
Solar Charger Diagram

Photovoltaic Solutions "Shark-Tank Style"

Grades:
10-12
Lesson Number:
5
Description:
In this lesson, the students will take their knowledge gained in the previous activities to innovate design solutions that will allow PV technology to plan an increased role in the transportation sector. The challenge given to them is to design a BEV that...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
1. Students will use data and mathematics to design a solution for using PV technology in the transportation sector. 2. Students will create a presentation with visuals and specs outlining their proposed solution. 3. Students will present and attempt to “sell” their products to a panel of judges.
Author:
Clayton Hudiburg
Estimated Activity Length:
5 hours
Solar Updraft Tower

Solar Updraft Towers Unit Overview

Grades:
3-8
Description:
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...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will understand ten renewable and non-renewable energy sources on the earth.Students will learn the locations of different energy sources on the earth.Students will learn the history of energy sources and how humans have used them.Students will learn about innovations and inventions used to find, recover, store, and release energy for human consumption.Students will understand that hot air risesStudents will understand why hot water and hot air rise and cold air and cold water sink.Students will learn that wind is produced by warm air rising and cold air sinking.Students will learn that the energy of moving hot air can be converted into other forms of energy.Students will understand that energy from the sun can be converted into heat.Students will discuss the effects of the chimney stack phenomenon.Students will understand that wind energy can be converted into other forms of energy.Students will determine different methods to increase the effectiveness of a wind turbine blade by harnessing and converting the mechanical energy of the wind.Students will determine that thermal energy resulting from the sun’s radiation can create an updraft that will power a turbine to spin.                                       Students will identify characteristics of turbine design that improve the success of their device.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.Students will be able to define and explain what a solar updraft tower is.Students will make connections between their previous engineering challenge and a real world solution to the world’s growing energy demands.
Author:
Lisa Morgan
Estimated Activity Length:
10 hours
WindMaterials_DSCN2143.jpg

Wind Power: A Hands on Experience

Grades:
3-8
Lesson Number:
3
Description:
This lesson challenges students to work in teams to design successful turbine blades for the “KidWind Firefly”. The firefly has an LED light that lights up when the students have designed turbine blades that spin effectively. This lesson provides students...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will understand that wind energy can be converted into other forms of energy.Students will determine different methods to increase the effectiveness of a wind turbine blade at harnessing and converting the mechanical energy of the wind.
Author:
Lisa Morgan
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours
Solar Updraft

Let's Build Our Wind and Solar Energy Toy

Grades:
3-8
Lesson Number:
4
Description:
Students will combine what they learned in previous lessons using their investigations of convection-related phenomena to design a device that will convert light energy from the sun into thermal energy and utilize the resulting convection currents. Their...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will determine that thermal energy resulting from the sun’s radiation can create an updraft that will power a turbine to spin.                                                Students will identify characteristics of turbine design that improve the success of their device.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.
Pedagogy & Practice:
Author:
Lisa Morgan
Estimated Activity Length:
3 hours
Solar Updraft Tower

Learning About Solar Updraft Towers

Grades:
3-8
Lesson Number:
5
Description:
This lesson helps students learn about solar updraft towers being planned and built around the world to help solve the energy crisis by using unlimited power from the sun. This will provide real world context to the engineering challenge they engaged in...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will be able to define and explain what a solar updraft tower is.Students will make connections between their previous engineering challenge and a real world solution to the world’s growing energy demands, including careers.
Pedagogy & Practice:
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:
Author:
Lisa Morgan
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
0 sec
US DOE WInd Turbines

Variables Affecting Wind Turbine Power

Grades:
7-8
Lesson Number:
5
Description:
Now that students are familiar with how mechanical electricity generation works, they will build a wind turbine powered by a box fan. Different teams will test different turbine variables to see how the amount of electrical power is affected. After each team...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
• Students will be able to identify and explain at least three variables that affect the efficiency of wind turbines • Students will conduct a scientific investigation to determine which wind turbine configuration will generate the most power
Author:
Craig Marais
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
4 hours
Solar Circuit

Variables Affecting Solar Power

Grades:
7-8
Lesson Number:
6
Description:
Students will plan and condict an investigation into solar photovoltaic technologies to determine what variables affect the output of panels. They will calculate and compare their exploration of solar panels to their previous investigation of wind turbines in...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
• Students will be able to identify and explain at least three variables that effect the efficiency of photovoltaic cells • Students will conduct a scientific investigation to determine which photovoltaic cell configuration will generate the most power.
Author:
Craig Marais
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours