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+ Electricity Fundamentals and Photovoltaics

Grades:
6-8
Unit:
Lesson Number:
4
Description:
Students work through a number of solar circuit explorations that culminate in a challenge to charge the Sphero SPRK+ devices with solar panels. In this exploration, students will investigate the requirements of various loads, working toward the voltage and...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will determine how to create various types of circuits in order to power loads with different electric needs.Students will identify the electric needs of a Sphero charger and build a circuit needed to charge this device.
Author:
Deb Frankel
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour
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

Can Portable PV Charge Vehicles?

Grades:
10-12
Lesson Number:
3
Description:
In this lesson, students will begin to explore the potential and challenges related to using photovoltaics to supplement the power needed to charge batteries in BEVs. Students will test a variety of wiring options related to series and parallel wiring. Once...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will explore the role of series and parallel wiring as they pertain to voltage and amperage.Students will explore the processes involved with charging batteries and relate these processes to voltage and amperage.Students will test photovoltaic modules to identify voltage and amperage outputs.Students will calculate, using data from field tests, the maximum power that can be produced using photovoltaics within the constraints of a typical passenger vehicle’s surface area.Students will calculate charging times using various PV array power ratings.
Author:
Clayton Hudiburg
Estimated Activity Length:
2 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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More Details Less Details
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
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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More Details Less Details
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
Simple Circuit

Introduction to Circuits

Grades:
7-8
Lesson Number:
2
Description:
This lesson begins with students having hands-on experiences creating electrical circuits using a battery, wires, and a light bulb. Students will learn that electricity is the flow of electrons, and how electricity moves within a circuit.
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
By the end of these two lessons students should be able to: 1. Create a simple circuit on their own when given the appropriate materials. 2. Diagram the flow of electrons within a circuit. 3. Differentiate between series and parallel circuits.
Pedagogy & Practice:
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:
Author:
Craig Marais
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
0 sec
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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More Details Less Details
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
Magnetic Field Filings

Three Ways to Generate Electricity

Grades:
7-8
Lesson Number:
4
Description:
This lesson gives students hands-on experiences with the attraction and repulsion of magnets including experiments with how the strength of attraction and repulsion varies with distance. Students see how magnets are used in motors but also in electric...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will be able to: • Detect the relative strength of magnetic fields at different distances from a magnet • Explain the energy transformations occurring in each part of a circuit • Identify three different methods for generating electricity
Author:
Craig Marais
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
3 hours
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