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 3: Home Energy Audit

Grades:
6-12
Lesson Number:
3
Description:
During this lesson, students will focus on where energy is used within their homes, how energy consumption is calculated, and how energy consumption can be reduced. Students will conduct a home energy audit and determine multiple ways to reduce energy...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
1.Students will identify all ways that energy is consumed within their homes.2.Students will perform an energy audit of their home and calculate the amount of energy used by each electronic device and appliances.3.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.4.Students will explore various ways to reduce energy (goal is 30% reduction).5.Students will propose a variety of energy reduction plans and present those options to their families for discussion.6.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.
Author:
Jonathan Strunin
Estimated Activity Length:
4 hours

Part 2 - Lesson 1: Renewable Energy Panel

Grades:
6-12
Lesson Number:
4
Description:
Students will meet with local planners or other available energy experts to discuss public policy regarding the use of wind turbines and solar arrays to generate electricity. Students develop questions for a panel of professionals regarding considerations...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
1.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 compile criteria for placement of wind and solar energy sources.
Author:
Jonathan Strunin
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour
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
Puerto Rico Power

When the Grid Goes Down and Stays Down

Grades:
7-8
Lesson Number:
1
Description:
Through an examination of media published in the five months following Hurricane Maria in 2017, students will develop an understanding of the electrical grid, the vulnerabilities of a grid system, and the immediate and long-term challenges of living without...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will understand the general structure of an energy grid Students will develop an understanding of the living conditions in Puerto Rico after Hurricane MariaStudents will collaborate to brainstorm needs to support safety, health and comfort in a natural disaster setting.Students will identify energy resources that one might desire to have in order meet the needs they identify. 
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:
Author:
Melody Childers
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour
Earth Sun

Saving Lives with Solar Ovens

Grades:
3-5
Lesson Number:
4
Description:
Students will be introduced to Solar Cookers International. Students will learn about different solar cooker designs and how they function. Students will learn the pros and cons on the use of solar ovens in developing countries. Students will gain an...
Energy Content:
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will learn about different solar cooker designs and how they function. Students will learn the customs, jobs, food and clothing of people in different countries of Africa.
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:
Author:
Lisa Morgan
Estimated Activity Length:
50 min