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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 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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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 3: Solar Energy

Grades:
6-12
Lesson Number:
6
Description:
Students will work with local government staff or another local energy professional to propose a way to create enough solar power energy to supply the annual energy needs for a real building. Students will be provided with on-site options, and will evaluate...
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Learning Goal(s):
1.Students will conduct an experiment to determine how electrical output changes as solar panels as the azimuth and tilts are incrementally changed.2.Students will conduct an experiment to determine how electrical output changes as solar panels are shaded.3.Students will work with the staff from your city or town to calculate the amount of potential electrical energy that can be collected from solar panels based upon the location and size of the system.4.Students will use existing solar data to determine the number of solar panels required to power the building in question.
Author:
Jonathan Strunin
Estimated Activity Length:
6 hours

Part 3 – Lesson 1: A Plan for Renewable Energy Goals

Grades:
6-12
Lesson Number:
7
Description:
Students will utilize their home energy audits from Part 1, the information they gathered from the wind and solar assessments in Part 2, and the knowledge they gained from the solar project in Part 2 to devise a plan for your city or town to meet renewable...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
1.Students will utilize previously acquired information about energy needs to create a renewable energy proposal for their city or town.2.Students will perform a solar energy audit on their homes and use class averages to calculate the amount of renewable energy that can be generated on residential properties.3.Students will assess where commercial and local government solar projects can occur within the city or town 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 prepare a brief PowerPoint presentation that summarizes their comprehensive plans that will be presented to a panel of elected officials or local experts/stakeholders.
Author:
Jonathan Strunin
Estimated Activity Length:
4 hours
Dye in Water

Developing a Model of Thermal Energy, Atoms, and Molecules

Grades:
6-8
Lesson Number:
2
Description:
Through a series of exploration and inquiry activities, students will explain kinetic molecular theory, atomic, and molecular structures. Students will be challenged to gradually increase the precision of their explanation of molecular-level structures and...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will develop a model through collaborative inquiry to explain thermal kinetic energy and predict the outcome when heat is added to a substance. Students will build argumentation from evidence skills through collaborative sense-making and gallery walk presentations. Students will develop a model of atomic and molecular structures.  
Author:
Melody Childers
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
9 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...
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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
SODIS_UV Treament

Solar and SODIS: Creating Clean Water for the World

Grades:
5-8
Description:
According to Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley, the number one and two challenges for humanity are energy and clean water. This classroom activity will introduce students to a low cost, renewable technique that connects these two issues. During the activity,...
Energy Content:
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will be introduced to the range of microbes in the environment, understand the risks of “dirty water” and be able to explain how energy from the sun can purify water through the SODIS technique.
Author:
Jamie Repasky
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour