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

UV Color Changing Beads

Hypothesizing Why Solar Beads Change Color

Grades:
3-5
Lesson Number:
1
Description:
The purpose of this activity is to introduce the idea that sunlight is energy and that this energy can be absorbed, converted into heat, or even cause a chemical reaction to occur. This lesson is also an introduction to the process of science, involving...
Energy Content:
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will be introduced to the vocabulary of observation, hypothesis, and evidence. Students will use the process of science discourse where people respectfully listen and disagree with each other’s ideas.
Pedagogy & Practice:
Author:
Leah Gorman
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
30 min
Sources of Energy

What is Renewable Energy?

Grades:
3-5
Lesson Number:
2
Description:
Students learn about renewable energy sources through a read-aloud of Loreen Leedy’s The Shocking Truth about Energy. Students use Internet sources to obtain more information about alternate sources of energy. They complete a reflection to synthesize the...
Energy Content:
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will be able to list and describe the main natural resources that people get energy from. Students will be able to describe the affect the use of different sources of energy has on the environment. Students will be able to describe the advantage of renewable sources of energy.
Pedagogy & Practice:
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:
Author:
Leah Gorman
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours
Reading Concept Map

Energy Changes Forms

Grades:
3-5
Lesson Number:
3
Description:
Students read informational text about the forms of energy and energy transformation. They use a graphic organizer in the form of a concept map to take notes on details and examples. Optional – using solar beads, solicit ideas about what energy transformation...
Energy Content:
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will understand that energy changes form. Students will be able to name different forms of energy and give examples of some of the transformations of energy that commonly occur. Students will find details and examples in informational text.
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:
Author:
Leah Gorman
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour
Kidwind Small Water Pump

Exploring Solar Powered Water Pumps

Grades:
3-5
Lesson Number:
4
Description:
Students explore with a solar cell and a pump to discover how to make the pump run. They will hypothesize and informally test whether they can make the pump run faster or slower.
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will make observations about how a solar cell needs to be set up to push water through a pump and hypothesize about how energy is changing form as the pump runs.
Pedagogy & Practice:
Author:
Leah Gorman
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour

Using Multiple Solar Modules

Grades:
3-5
Lesson Number:
5
Description:
Students first explore with 0.5 Volt solar cells to see whether adding cells to a circuit increases the amount of water pumped by a small pump. They are introduced to parallel and series wiring. They then design and carry out a formal experiment to test their...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will apply scientific ideas to design and test a solar powered water pump that moves water at the fastest rate. Students will experiment and build understanding of parallel and series wiring and how energy moves in these circuits. Students will record data accurately into a table.
Author:
Leah Gorman
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
3 hours

Keeping it Cool With Solar Unit Plan

Grades:
K-2
Description:
Keeping It Cool With Solar unit asks the question: “How might we design a structure that will keep us cool on a hot day?” As an anchoring phenomenon, students will be shown a time-lapse video of an ice cube melting, and a second phenomenon of a solar panel...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on Earth’s surface. Students will plan and conduct investigations to determine whether structures made with various materials will keep objects cool when placed in a beam of light. Students will analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem in order to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs. Students will analyze data obtained from testing different materials to determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for keeping an object cool. Students will test if solar panels and solar energy can help cool down their structure.
Author:
Mark Lewin
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
4 hours

Keeping it Cool With Solar: Hot Spot/Cool Spot

Grades:
K-2
Lesson Number:
1
Description:
This is the first lesson where K- 2 students will investigate the effect of sunlight on the earth’s surface (K - PS3-1). The students will observe a video of an ice cube melting as the anchoring phenomenon for the unit. In this first lesson, students will...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will consider and pose questions about what type of energy source can cause an ice cube to melt. Students will explore how the sun affects the Earth’s surface on the playground. Students will analyze data to understand how the sun affects the earth’s surface on the playground. Students will link the idea of sun/shade to hot/cool.
Author:
Mark Lewin
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
30 min

Keeping it Cool With Solar: Making Shade

Grades:
K-2
Lesson Number:
2
Description:
This lesson is designed for one 30-minute session. After reviewing the hot/cool playground spots from Lesson 1, Students will be asked, “On a hot day, which materials might keep the ground the coolest?”. Students will be given tissue paper, photocopy paper,...
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Keeping it Cool With Solar: Design Time

Grades:
K-2
Lesson Number:
3
Description:
This lesson is designed for one 30-minute session. Students are shown materials. Students are asked “How might we design a structure that will keep the ground the coolest?” Students design their structures by discussing, collaborating, and drawing. Students...
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Learning Goal(s):
1. Students design structures that will optimize cooling the earth’s surface from sunlight.
Author:
Mark Lewin
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
30 min

Keeping it Cool With Solar: Build Time

Grades:
K-2
Lesson Number:
4
Description:
This lesson is designed for one 30-minute session. Students build their structures based on their designs from Lesson 3. Students share evidence about ho w their structures affect the sunlight on the earth’s surface.
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