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

Solar Car Student

Solar Car Challenge: Team Brainstorm

Grades:
6-8
Lesson Number:
4
Description:
Students will play around with the solar car kits to familiarize themselves with the materials in preparation for the solar car engineering challenge.
Energy Content:
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
To introduce students to the problem that this project will attempt to solve: building a solar car that will go straight, far, and fast to win a race.
Author:
Karen Nelson
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
50 min
Solar Car Student

Solar Car Challenge: Develop Your Solution

Grades:
6-8
Lesson Number:
5
Description:
Students will play around with the solar car kits to familiarize themselves with the materials in preparation for the solar car engineering challenge.
Energy Content:
+
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
To introduce students to the problem that this project will attempt to solve: building a solar car that will go straight, far, and fast to win a race.
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:
Author:
Karen Nelson
Estimated Activity Length:
50 min
Solar Car Student

Solar Car Challenge: Test Your Solution

Grades:
6-8
Lesson Number:
6
Description:
Students will play around with the solar car kits to familiarize themselves with the materials in preparation for the solar car engineering challenge.
Energy Content:
+
-
More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
To introduce students to the problem that this project will attempt to solve: building a solar car that will go straight, far, and fast to win a race.
Author:
Karen Nelson
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
50 min

Solar Car Engineering Challenge Unit

Grades:
6-8
Description:
Students will build a solar car using instructions provided (Sol Run). They will take measurements of their car and then test to see how fast it can travel a 3m track. After students obtain their initial results they will research how to improve the car’s top...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
After the completion of this lesson students will be able to: • Describe how solar cars work • Accurately record and measure data • Use data to propose changes to experimental designs • Research a topic • Complete a full engineering assignment • Explain pros/cons of various prototypes • Work successfully within a group to accomplish a specific task • Brainstorm various ideas
Author:
Todd Freiboth
Estimated Activity Length:
40 min

Build Solar Cars

Grades:
4-6
Unit:
Lesson Number:
3
Description:
Students will build their solar vehicles. There are many options for them to do this, depending on the specific variables hoping to be tested following the construction and material-selection process. Students will be given the opportunity to try out multiple...
Energy Content:
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will construct a geared solar car, a pulley-system solar car, or both. Students will make verbal predictions about the outcomes and viabilities of different types of solar cars. Students will pinpoint the independent, dependent, and control variables in their solar car testing process.
Author:
Carol Patrick
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
50 min
Solar Car Race

Collect Data...Then Compare and Contrast

Grades:
4-6
Unit:
Lesson Number:
4
Description:
Students will race different iterations of solar cars: geared and pulley-system cars using varying gear ratios. Students will have the opportunity to make predictions, record data, and explain the results centered on the selection of these different variables...
Energy Content:
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will:Compare and contrast forces acting on the system by examining the results of the solar car races.Explain the mechanics of gear ratios and demonstrate the most useful ratio to use when constructing solar cars.Explain the benefits of employing a pulley-system in their car construction. Students will understand the importance of selecting measurable, specific variables to compare in their data collection process in order to make evidence-based claims.
Author:
Carol Patrick
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour
Solar Mobile

Solar Mobile Design Challenge Unit Plan

Grades:
6-8
Description:
This unit involves students learning about transferring solar energy to small motors, exploring the center of gravity and testing light sources (including the sun). The culminating engineering design project gives students the chance to pull together their...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will design circuits using various solar panels in order to power motors with propellers. Students will learn about solar energy transfer in order to power the motors on their solar aircraft.Students will research an aircraft and draw an outline of the aircraft onto foam board. Students will explore the concept of center of gravity. Students will test the efficiency of various light sources (incandescent, fluorescent, LED, halogen) for usage by a PV cell.Students will use their prior testing results and knowledge to engineer a solar-powered mobile. Students will work to transfer the most energy from the solar panels considering all the tested variables in order to power the fastest, most efficient mobile.Students will demonstrate and explain why their solar mobile should be chosen for the solar mobile display in the children’s museum. 
Author:
Kristy Schneider
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
0 sec
Solar Mobile

Exploring Circuits and Optimum Power

Grades:
6-8
Lesson Number:
2
Description:
This lesson is an exploratory learning cycle that will give the instructor input as to where students are in their understanding of circuits and also scaffolds student learning. This lesson starts by engaging students by using an Energy Stick. Then, students...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students build series circuits using “grain of wheat bulb” and LEDs powered by various low voltage solar panels. Students build parallel circuits using grain of wheat and LED bulbs powered by various low voltage solar panels. Students demonstrate and draw the energy transfer using solar energy. Students draw a circuit diagram of their final optimal circuit. Students design an optimal circuit model that will be used in their final project. 
Author:
Kristy Schneider
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
3 hours
Solar Mobile

Exploring Center of Gravity

Grades:
6-8
Lesson Number:
3
Description:
Since the concept Center of Gravity (mass) is a key factor in a mobile, students will participate in some activities to help them experience and understand this principle so it can be applied to their final Solar Mobile design. This lesson starts with a...
Energy Content:
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will observe a discrepant event and write down questions about what they observed. Students will participate in a variety of activities using a meter stick in order to experience and learn about center of gravity.Students will find the center of gravity of an irregular shaped paper object by using a plumb line. Students will apply the concept of Center of Gravity and find the center of their solar aircraft that is to be used on their solar mobile. 
Author:
Kristy Schneider
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours
Solar Mobile

Light Source Efficiency: Exploring Irradiance

Grades:
6-8
Lesson Number:
4
Description:
This lesson explores the concept of irradiance by having students use a Vernier Pryanometer. Using the “Light Source Efficiency” worksheet to guide their work, students measure irradiance as compared to the Sun’s irradiance to see what would be the best li...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Using a Vernier Pyranometer, students will measure electromagnetic radiation in watts per square meter (W/m2 ). Students will compare Sunlight irradiance with various indoor lighting options. Students will make a recommendation as to the optimum indoor lighting for powering solar panels. 
Author:
Kristy Schneider
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours