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

Unit Plan: A Community Powered by Renewable Energy

Grades:
6-12
Description:
In this three-part comprehensive place-based and project-based unit, students will learn and apply rebnewable energy content to devise action plans at an individual, family, and local level. Students will use primary and secondary research explore energy...
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Learning Goal(s):
LEARNING GOALS – PART 11.Students will define and explain the differences between renewable and non-renewable energy sources.2.Students will research, summarize, and present the (short- and long-term) benefits and drawbacks of utilizing wind and solar energy. 3.Students will research, summarize, and present the (short- and long-term) benefits and drawbacks of utilizing fossil fuels.4.Students will generate questions about the greenhouse gas effect, identify and isolate variables, and then conduct an experiment to answer a class generated question about the greenhouse gas effect.5.Through Socratic seminar, students will use the knowledge gained over the course of this lesson to discuss the potential long- and short-term benefits and drawbacks of using fossil fuels, solar energy, and wind energy.6.Students will define scientific vocabulary related to electricity.7.Students will be able to describe how electricity moves through a conductor.8.Students will draw and describe series and parallel circuits.9.Students will identify ways that energy is consumed within their homes.10.Students will perform an energy audit of their home and calculate the amount of energy used by each electronic device and appliances.11.Students will create a spreadsheet demonstrating the electricity required to operate each electronic device and appliance, along with a summary of finding that clearly identifies how energy consumption can be reduced within their home.12.Students will explore various ways to reduce energy (goal is 30% reduction).13.Students will propose a variety of energy reduction plans and present those options to their families for discussion.14.After discussion with their families, students will itemize the agreed upon plan and identify specific actions that result in quantifiable outcomes that will implemented to reduce energy consumption by their families.LEARNING GOALS – PART 21.Students will gain background information regarding the limitations of having and wind and solar generating infrastructure within city and county limits, including environmental, aesthetic, and cultural considerations. 2.Students will work with professionals to compile criteria for placement of wind and solar energy sources.3.Students will conduct experiments to collect and analyze data to provide a conclusion to the questions: What is the optimal blade angle for generating the most energy? What is the optimal wind speed for generating the most energy?4.Students will use prevailing wind data in your region to examine energy output of various sized small wind turbines as wind speeds incrementally increase.5.Based on local wind speeds, students will determine a range of potential kilowatt generation from wind power.6.Students will conduct experiments to determine how electrical output of solar panels change as the tilt, azimuth, and shade coverage change.7.Students will generate, compare, and evaluate various solar configurations for a solar project in your region.LEARNING GOALS – PART 31.Students will utilize previously acquired information about energy needs to create a renewable energy proposal for your town or city.2.Students will perform a solar audit on their homes and use class averages to project the amount of solar energy that can be generated on residential properties.3.Students will assess where commercial and municipal solar projects can occur within your town or city to meet the energy needs for non-residential consumers.4.Students will determine potential locations for larger-scale wind and solar farms to augment the remaining energy needs of the community.5.Students will prepare a comprehensive renewable energy plan that totals the calculations for potential residential, commercial, and agency renewable energy generation.6.Students will calculate the average amount of energy generated by wind turbines and solar panels in various conditions to determine the quantity of renewable energy sources required to power the city.7.Students will use their projected energy calculations to propose a combination of wind and solar sources to meet your locality’s energy needs, based on benefits and drawbacks of each source of energy.8.Based on prevailing winds and building orientation, students will explore potential sites for wind turbines and solar panels.9.Students will develop a final proposal to meet future energy needs through a combination of energy generation and reduction of energy consumption, prepare a brief slide presentation that summarizes their comprehensive plans, and present their finding to local energy conservation groups and local government staff or elected officials.
Author:
Jonathan Strunin
Estimated Activity Length:
10 hours

Part 1 - Lesson 1: Why Use Renewable Energy?

Grades:
6-12
Lesson Number:
1
Description:
The purpose of this lesson is for students to obtain base knowledge of how renewable and non-renewable energy is generated and identify differences between renewable resources and fossil fuels. Students will research the potential long-term and short-term...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
1.Students will define and explain the differences between renewable and non-renewable energy sources.2.Students will research, summarize, and present the (short- and long-term) benefits and drawbacks of utilizing wind and solar energy.  3.Students will research, summarize, and present the (short- and long-term) benefits and drawbacks of utilizing fossil fuels.4.Students will generate questions about the greenhouse gas effect, identify and isolate variables, and then conduct an experiment to answer a class generated question about the greenhouse gas effect.5.Through Socratic seminar, students will use the knowledge gained over the course of this lesson to discuss the potential long- and short-term benefits and drawbacks of using fossil fuels, solar energy, and wind energy.
Author:
Jonathan Strunin
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
8 hours

Part 1 - Lesson 2: What is electricity and how do we use it?

Grades:
6-12
Lesson Number:
2
Description:
During this lesson students will learn about how electricity originates at an atomic level and that electricity moves through conductors and can be directed using circuits. Students will used guided reading techniques to explore informational texts and videos...
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Learning Goal(s):
1.Students will define scientific vocabulary related to electricity.2.Students will be able to describe how electricity moves through a conductor.3.Students will draw and describe series and parallel circuits.
Author:
Jonathan Strunin
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
5 hours

Adrift in a Sea of Plastic Unit Plan

Grades:
5-8
Description:
In this unit students will investigate the phenomena of plastic trash islands floating in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The students will work to solve the problem of plastic trash islands through the engineering and design process. Using 3D printers,...
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Learning Goal(s):
·       Students will design 3D models using Tinkercad software.·       Students will define the problem of plastic trash islands.·       Students will describe possible solutions to the problem of plastic trash islands.·       Students will research the plastic trash problem and create google slideshows the problem and how we might fix it.·       Students will investigate different ways to build structures that both float and hold weight.·       Students will build a model of a device that could collect plastic from the ocean.·       Students will test the models they build.·       Students will communicate their results from scientific inquiry to identify factors that are important to optimizing the design of the plastic collecting device.
Author:
Jonathan Strunin
Estimated Activity Length:
10 hours

The Problem of Plastic Trash Islands

Grades:
5-8
Lesson Number:
2
Description:
This lesson is designed for 3 days, 50-minute sessions. The students will watch videos and take 2 column notes to guide independent research. The students will examine different solutions that are already being tried and experimental solutions that have not...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will read and watch various informational texts and resources and take structured notes to support comprehension.Students will conduct independent research on a current eventStudents will create a google slide show or other presentation and present their findings and ideas.Students will practice speaking and listening skills.
Author:
Jonathan Strunin
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours

Engineering 101

Grades:
5-8
Lesson Number:
3
Description:
This lesson is designed for 3, 50-minute sessions. The students will engage in multiple mini-engineering challenges to develop their understanding of structures and how to build models. The students will also learn to use the 3D pens to create a 3D object.
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Learning Goal(s):
·       Students will understand some basics of engineering.·       Students will become familiar with 3D pens and how to use them.
Author:
Jonathan Strunin
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours

Design and Engineer Solutions

Grades:
5-8
Lesson Number:
4
Description:
This lesson is designed to span 9 days with 50-minute sessions. The students will use a Design and Engineering Journal to guide them in the design and engineering process. In small groups they will use the research from lesson 2 to formulate solutions to the...
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Hot Pack

Unit Plan - Chemical Differences in Emergency Energy Sources

Grades:
7-8
Description:
Students develop atomic and molecular models of energy resources, analyze combustion of various fuels and build circuits with Photovolatic (PV) modules to evaluate and suggest revisions to a disaster preparedness supply list. They then research and evaluate...
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Learning Goal(s):
To build empathy for people in emergency situations and an understanding of how access to energy resources can increase one’s safety, health, and comfort. To understand the nature of a variety of energy needs and how different applications have different optimal solutions. To develop models to explain the molecular and extended structures of energy resources, including how the resources change when energy is generated (Electron movement in PV cells, combustion reactions in fuel). To understand that the properties of substances depends upon the atomic / molecular structure, which changes with chemical reactions. To build a circuit that includes a solar module and measure the voltage and current. To gather and evaluate information to describe the impact on society of converting natural resources into PV cells. To design, build and test a device that uses a chemical reaction to generate or absorb thermal energy. Evaluate and revise a plan for the energy resources one should store to prepare for a natural disaster. 
Author:
Melody Childers
Estimated Activity Length:
0 sec
Solar Cell Manufacture

Research and Evaluate the Impact on the Environment and Society of Converting Natural Resources into PV Cells

Grades:
7-8
Lesson Number:
4
Description:
Students will engage in guided research to explore resource acquisition, material processing, and electricity generation associated with photovoltaic cells. Opportunity for differentiation exists in the level of assistance in guiding the research, the...
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Learning Goal(s):
1. Students will evaluate information to describe the impact on society from resource extraction and materials-processing for PV cells.2. Students will communicate their understandings of different impacts from converting natural resources into PV cells through participation in a Socratic Seminar. 
Author:
Melody Childers
Estimated Activity Length:
6 hours

Cost Effective Solar Cells: Copper Oxide Cell Data Sharing

Grades:
9-12
Lesson Number:
6
Description:
This lesson is designed to be completed in one 40-minute section. The teacher will facilitate the sharing of student solar cell data from indoor and outdoor testing through a gallery walk session. Variables such as lighting, photovoltaic effect, copper...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will share and analyze oxidized copper sheet solar cell data
Author:
Tom Wolverton
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour

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