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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
Earth Sun

Understanding Light

Grades:
4-5
Lesson Number:
5
Description:
Students will observe and articulate their observations of the way that different materials reflect and absorb sunlight, transforming it into heat to varying degrees.
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will conduct simple experiments to learn what kind of materials absorb heat from the sun, what kind of materials reflect light from the sun and what color of materials do not get hot in the sun. This lesson gives students experience in beginning to learn about why certain materials and colors are used in solar ovens.
Pedagogy & Practice:
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:
Author:
Lisa Morgan
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
30 min

Cost Effective Solar Cells: Solar Energy Equity and Sustainability

Grades:
9-12
Lesson Number:
1
Description:
This lesson is designed to span 2 days with 40-minute sections. On the introduction day, three solar power articles will be read to set up a Socratic Seminar dialogue on Day 2. A teacher will need to read the articles. The articles investigate the pros and...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will read at least three articles discussing solar power generation, and the social, cultural, and economic implications of sustainable solar energyStudents will discuss social, cultural, and economic implications of sustainable solar energy in a Socratic Seminar format.
Author:
Tom Wolverton
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours

Cost Effective Solar Cells: Solar Panel Basics

Grades:
9-12
Lesson Number:
3
Description:
This lesson is designed to be completed in one 40-minute section. Students will have already learned the concepts of basic circuits, including voltage, current, power, parallel and serial circuits. Teachers will then explain the basic concept of solar cells,...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will review circuitry basics and solar cell layersStudents will model N-layers, P-layers, and the N-P junction in a physical circuit activity
Author:
Tom Wolverton
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour

Cost Effective Solar Cells: Solar Panel Data Sharing

Grades:
9-12
Lesson Number:
4
Description:
This lesson is designed to be completed in one 40-minute section. The teacher will facilitate the sharing of student solar panel data from indoor and outdoor testing with fans, music circuits, LEDs and any other combinations that were constructed. Teachers...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will analyze and share out power generation results with classmates
Author:
Tom Wolverton
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
0 sec

Cost Effective Solar Cells: Copper Oxide Solar Cell Construction and Testing

Grades:
9-12
Lesson Number:
5
Description:
This lesson is designed to be completed in one 80-minute section, but can be done in two 40-minute sections. The teacher will facilitate student construction of copper oxide plates with electric burners or hot plates. Teachers will guide students in making a...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will construct an oxidized copper sheet solar cell Students will test an oxidized copper sheet solar cell for voltage and current
Author:
Tom Wolverton
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
2 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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More Details Less Details
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

Cost Effective Solar Cells: Titanium Dioxide Solar Cell Construction and Testing

Grades:
9-12
Lesson Number:
7
Description:
This lesson is designed to be completed in two 80-minute sections. The teacher will show a basic procedure and video. The teacher will facilitate the construction of Organic Dye-Sensitized solar cells on coated glass plates with Titanium Dioxide. A fume hood...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will construct titanium dioxide coated “raspberry juice” solar cellsStudents will test titanium dioxide coated “raspberry juice” solar cells under various conditions 
Author:
Tom Wolverton
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
3 hours

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