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

Design a 50 Year Energy Plan

50 Year Energy Plan - Unit Plan

Grades:
9-12
Description:
Throughout this creative, hands-on Unit, students are challenged to scale up every Disciplinary Core Idea and Science & Engineering Practice they’ve learned - from simple electricity generation, to building their own stereo speakers and DIY electric...
+
-
More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Explore causes and effects of climate change as related to energy production. Develop a working understanding of varying stakeholder perspectives on the causes and effects of climate change. Through hands-on exploration, build a working speaker that can connect to a cellphone. Use DIY speakers as a model to observe the process of producing electrical currents with a simple generator. Design, build and refine a wind turbine to efficiently convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. Design, build and refine a system that is the most effective at converting the sunlight into electrical energy. Students develop models to study the relationship between the Earth’s atmospheric composition and the Earth’s surface temperatures using simple diagrams. Students reflect on the impact of energy sources and power production on the environment. Students utilize their knowledge of how energy generation processes impacts the environment to inform how and why they develop a 50-year Energy Plan for their local community. 
Author:
Bradford Hill
Estimated Activity Length:
0 sec
Design a 50 Year Energy Plan

Scaling up to Power Production: Let’s Engineer a Wind Turbine

Grades:
9-12
Lesson Number:
3
Description:
After working through Lessons 1 and 2 of this Unit, students are now familiar with the physics of how generators work. The next step in Lesson 3 is to investigate how existing power generation systems operate and supply electricity to entire geographic...
+
-
More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
1. Design, build, and refine a wind turbine in order to effectively and efficiently convert motion into mechanical energy and then into electrical energy 
Author:
Bradford Hill
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
5 hours
Design a 50 Year Energy Plan

What is Our Plan?

Grades:
9-12
Lesson Number:
6
Description:
With all the pieces in place, this Unit’s final lesson asks students to code a spreadsheet that calculates and mathematically predicts the environmental impacts of different energy sources and strategies over a 50 year timespan. Divided into five different...
+
-
More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
1. Students utilize their knowledge of energy’s impact on global systems as well as the process of energy generation in order to inform their development of a 50-year Energy Plan divided into decades. 
Author:
Bradford Hill
Estimated Activity Length:
5 hours
Solar Updraft Tower

Solar Updraft Towers Unit Overview

Grades:
3-8
Description:
Students will combine research, direct observations, and hands-on investigation to lead them into an engineering design project involving the construction of a solar updraft tower. During this process, students will make references to specific phenomena they...
+
-
More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will understand ten renewable and non-renewable energy sources on the earth.Students will learn the locations of different energy sources on the earth.Students will learn the history of energy sources and how humans have used them.Students will learn about innovations and inventions used to find, recover, store, and release energy for human consumption.Students will understand that hot air risesStudents will understand why hot water and hot air rise and cold air and cold water sink.Students will learn that wind is produced by warm air rising and cold air sinking.Students will learn that the energy of moving hot air can be converted into other forms of energy.Students will understand that energy from the sun can be converted into heat.Students will discuss the effects of the chimney stack phenomenon.Students will understand that wind energy can be converted into other forms of energy.Students will determine different methods to increase the effectiveness of a wind turbine blade by harnessing and converting the mechanical energy of the wind.Students will determine that thermal energy resulting from the sun’s radiation can create an updraft that will power a turbine to spin.                                       Students will identify characteristics of turbine design that improve the success of their device.Students will utilize content from previous phenomena they investigated, such as the chimney stack effect and Norwegian candle toys, to determine how to best harness the energy transformed by their device from the sun.Students will be able to define and explain what a solar updraft tower is.Students will make connections between their previous engineering challenge and a real world solution to the world’s growing energy demands.
Author:
Lisa Morgan
Estimated Activity Length:
10 hours
Sources of Energy

Informative Writing: Where Does Energy Come From?

Grades:
3-8
Lesson Number:
1
Description:
This lesson is a (stand alone or in-unit) guided non-fiction research and writing project, which includes a differentiated choice menu and list of ideas for publishing the completed project. Each student will choose one of ten energy sources to research,...
+
-
More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will understand ten renewable and non-renewable energy sources on the earth.Students will learn the locations of different energy sources on the earth.Students will learn the history of energy sources and how they have been used by humans.Students will learn about innovations and inventions used to find, recover, store and release energy for human consumption.
Pedagogy & Practice:
Author:
Lisa Morgan
Estimated Activity Length:
10 hours
Thermal Convection

Where Does Energy Go?

Grades:
3-8
Lesson Number:
2
Description:
This lesson consists of six demonstration activities that show examples of ways in which water and air absorb heat to transfer energy from one place to another. These demonstration activities act as unique phenomena in which students can generate questions to...
+
-
More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will understand that hot air risesStudents will understand why hot water and hot air rise and cold air and cold water sink.Students will learn that wind is produced by warm air rising and cold air sinking.Students will learn that the energy of moving hot air can be converted into other forms of energy.Students will understand that energy from the sun can be converted into heat.Students will discuss the effects of the chimney stack phenomenon.
Author:
Lisa Morgan
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
5 hours
WindMaterials_DSCN2143.jpg

Wind Power: A Hands on Experience

Grades:
3-8
Lesson Number:
3
Description:
This lesson challenges students to work in teams to design successful turbine blades for the “KidWind Firefly”. The firefly has an LED light that lights up when the students have designed turbine blades that spin effectively. This lesson provides students...
+
-
More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will understand that wind energy can be converted into other forms of energy.Students will determine different methods to increase the effectiveness of a wind turbine blade at harnessing and converting the mechanical energy of the wind.
Author:
Lisa Morgan
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours
Solar Updraft

Let's Build Our Wind and Solar Energy Toy

Grades:
3-8
Lesson Number:
4
Description:
Students will combine what they learned in previous lessons using their investigations of convection-related phenomena to design a device that will convert light energy from the sun into thermal energy and utilize the resulting convection currents. Their...
+
-
More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will determine that thermal energy resulting from the sun’s radiation can create an updraft that will power a turbine to spin.                                                Students will identify characteristics of turbine design that improve the success of their device.Students will utilize content from previous phenomena they investigated, such as the chimney stack effect and Norwegian candle toys, to determine how to best harness the energy transformed by their device from the sun.
Pedagogy & Practice:
Author:
Lisa Morgan
Estimated Activity Length:
3 hours
Solar Updraft Tower

Learning About Solar Updraft Towers

Grades:
3-8
Lesson Number:
5
Description:
This lesson helps students learn about solar updraft towers being planned and built around the world to help solve the energy crisis by using unlimited power from the sun. This will provide real world context to the engineering challenge they engaged in...
+
-
More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will be able to define and explain what a solar updraft tower is.Students will make connections between their previous engineering challenge and a real world solution to the world’s growing energy demands, including careers.
Pedagogy & Practice:
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:
Author:
Lisa Morgan
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
0 sec
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...
+
-
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