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

Constructing a Solar-Powered MintyBoost USB Charger

Grades:
6-8
Description:
Students will receive a background on solar energy, solar energy applications, and electrical circuit components. Students will then apply these concepts to a Home Energy Consumption worksheet and the construction of a Solar Module MintyBoost USB Charger,...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will gain a background on solar energy and be able to apply terms such as solar modules, photovoltaics, and solar power. Students will gain a background on electrical circuit components and be able to apply terms such as capacitor, resistor, diode, alternating and direct current, amps, inductor, volts, and watts. Through the completion of the Home Energy Consumption worksheet, students will determine their family’s monthly energy consumption and calculate the monthly dollar cost for household items such as light bulbs, game consoles, and televisions. Students will demonstrate their understanding of solar energy and electrical circuits through the construction of a Solar Module MintyBoost USB Charger and a presentation of their own unique product that utilizes the solar charger.
Author:
Deb Frankel
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
10 hours
Solar Circuit

Circuit Analysis With Solar Energy: Measure the Power Consumed by Various Devices

Grades:
6-12
Description:
Students will set up a simple circuit using a solar module and three small loads. They will then use a multimeter to measure the voltage across each load and the current through each circuit. Students will then calculate the power consumption and resistance...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will understand that voltage is a measure of a difference in electric potential energy and that current is the rate at which charge flows through a circuit. Students will understand how to measure and quantify electricity. Students will become familiar with the relationships between the fundamental electrical quantities.
Author:
Emily Barrett
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour
Solar Circuit

Using a Multimeter to Analyze a Solar Circuit: Measuring Current and Voltage—Calculating Power and Resistance

Grades:
6-12
Description:
Students will set up a simple circuit using a multimeter and a load resistor to measure the voltage and current in the circuit. Students will learn to use a multimeter, learn how to calculate power and be introduced to Ohm’s Law. This activity provides a good...
Energy Content:
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will understand that voltage is a measure of a difference in electric potential energy and that current is the rate at which charge flows through a circuit.Students will understand how to measure and quantify electricity. Students will become familiar with the relationships between the fundamental electrical quantities.
Author:
Emily Barrett
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour
Sources of Energy

Energy Review: Practical and Technical Perspectives—What is Energy?

Grades:
4-8
Description:
Students will take a short field trip around the school to identify different types of energy.
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Learning Goal(s):
To access prior knowledge about different forms of energy
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:
Author:
Erin Sturtz
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
50 min
Photovoltaic Module

How a Solar Cell Works: Photon Simulation

Grades:
4-8
Description:
The purpose of this activity is to simulate the movement of electrons at the p-n junction to create an electrical current. Students will play a modified game of musical chairs, where teams will compete against each other while creating their own electricity...
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Learning Goal(s):
To understand how a solar cell operates on the atomic level, through a simulation experience
Pedagogy & Practice:
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:
Author:
Erin Sturtz
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
50 min
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
Solar Tracker

Solar Tracker Challenge

Grades:
5-7
Description:
Students will build a simple circuit that can be used to track a light source. This circuit will be used as a springboard for discussion into the engineering design process, solar tracking, and basic electricity and circuits. The simple solar tracker operates...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students observe and replicate a simple solar tracker; learn basic electric circuits and terminology; reflect on possible improvements for solar tracker; and reflect on how the engineering design process is used daily.
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:
Author:
Jamie Repasky
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour
Outdoor Circuitry

Engineering with Renewable Energy: Solar Water Pumping

Grades:
4-5
Description:
Students will learn that energy from a renewable resource can be converted to electrical energy to do work by engineering a water pump system powered by the sun. They will compare the volume of water pumped by different designs and graph data collected and...
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Learning Goal(s):
The students will be able to learn what a solar cell looks like and how light energy triggers the cell to release negative charges to move toward the positive side, creating power as it moves from one side to the other. Students will be able to arrange four panels into the correct order to create power for an object and interact with a 3D model of a module to understand how the electricity to power the fan is created. The students will be able to experiment with solar panels (angle, direction) to power a small fan/LED light/circuit board. Students will be able to identify the best position/angle for maximum power. Students will apply scientific ideas to design and test a solar powered water pump that moves water at the fastest rate. Students will experiment and build understanding of parallel and series wiring and how energy moves in these circuits.
Author:
Jamie Repasky
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours
Kill-a-Watt Meter

Home Energy Consumption

Grades:
6-8
Description:
Students will calculate the energy consumption of a set of common household devices based on their operating power rating and then investigate the power consumption of other devices in their homes.
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will understand power and energy as they relate to their electricity use. Students will be able to calculate energy consumption and the associated costs. Students will investigate ways they could reduce their own energy consumption
Pedagogy & Practice:
Author:
Deb Frankel
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour
Solar Tracker

Simple Solar Tracker

Grades:
4-12
Description:
Students will be shown a working example of a solar tracker and asked to replicate the design based on their observations. The design incorporates four solar cells arranged in two arrays with each array reverse biased such that they generate a voltage that...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students observe and replicate a simple solar tracker. Students will learn basic electric circuits and terminology. Students will reflect on possible improvements for solar tracker. Students will reflect on how the engineering design process is used daily.
Author:
Pat Blount
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours