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

Earth Sun

Understanding Light

Grades:
4-5
Lesson Number:
5
Description:
Students will observe and articulate their observations of the way that different materials reflect and absorb sunlight, transforming it into heat to varying degrees.
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will conduct simple experiments to learn what kind of materials absorb heat from the sun, what kind of materials reflect light from the sun and what color of materials do not get hot in the sun. This lesson gives students experience in beginning to learn about why certain materials and colors are used in solar ovens.
Pedagogy & Practice:
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:
Author:
Lisa Morgan
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
30 min
Earth Sun

Light Is Transformed into Heat

Grades:
4-5
Lesson Number:
6
Description:
When absorbed (not reflected), light seems to disappear. What happens to it?
Energy Content:
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will experience how some materials absorb heat from the sun and other materials reflect the sun and stay cool.
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:
Author:
Lisa Morgan
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
0 sec
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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More Details Less Details
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
Earth Sun

Daily Variations in Solar Energy

Grades:
3-5
Lesson Number:
8
Description:
Students will observe and articulate that even on cloudless days, the amount of solar energy changes with the time of day and the time of year. Solar energy is strongest when the sun is high in the sky (when shadows are shortest). The sun shines more directly...
Energy Content:
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will understand that when the sun is lower in the sky, it casts a longer shadow on an object. When the sun is higher in the sky, it casts a smaller shadow. Students will also understand the importance of adjusting the position of a solar oven every half hour or so throughout the cooking process to insure that the bottom of the oven is facing the sun directly in order to maximize heat absorption.
Pedagogy & Practice:
Author:
Lisa Morgan
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
40 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
Wadsworth OH thumbnail

Let’s Get Cooking!

Grades:
4-5
Lesson Number:
10
Description:
The purpose of this lesson is to provide students with a hands-on experience using the sun to cook cornbread or cookies. Students will also learn to use an infrared thermometer. There is also an optional extension for the class or individual students to...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
At the end of this lesson students will be able to: • Follow and prepare a recipe for cookies. • Learn to take and record oven temperature every 30 minutes using an infrared thermometer. • Evaluate the three ovens with a pros and cons list for each one after cooking. • Write one or two of their own questions. • Make suggestions for design changes.
Author:
Lisa Morgan
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
3 hours
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

Cost Effective Solar Cells Unit Plan

Grades:
9-12
Description:
Through a series of solar panel and solar cell construction activities, students will learn the basic principles of energy conversion from light energy to chemical & electrical energy. Students will assemble and test pre-constructed solar panels to gain a...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will discuss social, cultural, and economic implications of sustainable solar energy.Students will construct and test solar panel arrays to power LED lights, fan motors, and music playersStudents will review circuitry basics and solar cell layersStudents will analyze and share out power generation results with classmatesStudents will construct and test an oxidized copper sheet solar cellStudents will share and analyze oxidized copper sheet solar cell dataStudents will construct and test titanium dioxide coated “raspberry juice” solar cellsStudents will collect and analyze titanium dioxide coated “raspberry juice” solar cell data.Students will discuss results and draw conclusions about variables that may affect power generationStudents will visit a solar cell or silicon manufacturing facility and/or engage with guest speakers. Students will learn more detailed solar cell principles and manufacturing techniques involved in solar cell constructionStudents will research chemicals, materials and procedures for their own solar cell designsStudents will build and present models of their proposed solar cellsStudents will construct and test unique solar cellsStudents will present construction progress and project obstaclesStudents will format solar cell data, draw conclusions, and construct an engineering report as a research poster
Author:
Tom Wolverton
Estimated Activity Length:
10 hours

Cost Effective Solar Cells: Solar Energy Equity and Sustainability

Grades:
9-12
Lesson Number:
1
Description:
This lesson is designed to span 2 days with 40-minute sections. On the introduction day, three solar power articles will be read to set up a Socratic Seminar dialogue on Day 2. A teacher will need to read the articles. The articles investigate the pros and...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will read at least three articles discussing solar power generation, and the social, cultural, and economic implications of sustainable solar energyStudents will discuss social, cultural, and economic implications of sustainable solar energy in a Socratic Seminar format.
Author:
Tom Wolverton
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours

Cost Effective Solar Cells: Engaging with Solar Panels

Grades:
9-12
Lesson Number:
2
Description:
This lesson is designed to span 2 days with 80-minute sections. On the first day, the teachers will challenge the students to assemble circuits with solar panels that can power up 1) a motor with fan, 2) a music-playing circuit, and 3) an LED. Students will...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will construct working solar panel arrays to power LEDs, fans, and music boxesStudents will sketch models of working solar circuits
Author:
Tom Wolverton
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
3 hours