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

Solar Mini House

Mini Solar Houses Unit

Grades:
4-6
Description:
In Lesson 1, the lesson focuses on understanding how the angle and orientation affect the amount of energy that is generated through use of a solar cell. Paper azimuth finders, Keva Planks, and multimeters will be used in order for students to draw...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
1. Students will understand how to use an Azimuth finder to determine the direction and altitude that solar modules will face. 2. Students will learn how to describe why a solar module is pitched at a particular angle. 3. Students will understand how to measure the voltage and current for an electrical energy source. 4. Students will learn how to build a circuit that will light a light bulb with a switch and without a switch. 5. Students will understand that the electricity flows through a circuit from an energy source to a load. 6. Students will understand the difference between open and closed circuits. 7. Students will understand the similarities and differences between solar cells and batteries as an energy source. 8. Students will understand how electricity flows through a circuit (from energy sources to loads) with more than one source and more than one load. 9. Students will understand how to build series and parallel circuit and the characteristics of each. 10. Students will learn to power both a light and a fan. 11. Students will learn how to find a fault in a circuit. 12. Students will understand that the electricity flows through a circuit from an energy source to a load. 13. Students will understand the difference between open and closed circuits. 14. Students will identify the causes and solutions to various complications that arise in the construction of circuits. 15. Students will use the design process to create a roof to hold an adequate number of solar modules to power an LED and a fan. 16. Students will understand how to make a geometric net (a 2D drawing that when folded creates a 3D shape) for designing a roof.
Author:
Beverly Satterwhite
Estimated Activity Length:
8 hours
Car Charger Schematic

Electrical Energy and Solar Module Efficiency

Grades:
7-12
Unit:
Lesson Number:
1
Description:
This lesson will let students do research to define terms that will be used in this unit. They will record this information in their Journals, which can be scientific or simple homemade notebooks. This lesson will also introduce the multimeter, small solar...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
1. Students will document necessary terms in their journals 2. Students will be able to set up a multimeter to measure voltage 3. Students will be able to set up a multimeter to measure current 4. Students will be able to calculate power from data collected 5. Students should be able to measure the collector area of a solar module (area of solar cell(s) within solar module) and represent this value in square meters (m^2)
Author:
Brett McFarland
Estimated Activity Length:
4 hours
Car Charger Schematic

Activities and Assessment of Vocab and Units

Grades:
7-12
Unit:
Lesson Number:
2
Description:
This lesson is intended as a way to check for student understanding regarding the content presented in the previous lesson of this unit. The assessment takes place in two parts: a written assessment of content-related vocabulary and concepts as well as a...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will be able to define voltage, current, power and energy as it relates to electricity.Students will be able to define electricity and have the units for all the above terms in their Journals.Students will be able to set up multimeters for voltage and current and will be assessed on this.
Author:
Brett McFarland
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours
Car Charger Schematic

Phone Charger Efficiency

Grades:
7-12
Unit:
Lesson Number:
3
Description:
This is part of the Off the Grid Unit. In this lesson students will explore the concept of efficiency , and how to take data in order to calculate the efficiency of various cell phone or USB charging circuits. They will complete this process by using a...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
1. Students will use multimeters to measure voltage and current in circuits. 2. Students will use collected data and be able to make power calculations from this data. 3. Students will also be able to calculate efficiency from their power calculations. 4. Students will be able to compare efficiencies in order to identify the circuit that is most efficient. 5. Students will be able to make circuits from a diagram and vice versa.
Pedagogy & Practice:
Author:
Brett McFarland
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours
Car Charger Schematic

Exploring Buck and Boost Converters

Grades:
7-12
Unit:
Lesson Number:
4
Description:
This lab uses a variety of voltage conversion devices to output 5 Volts, the requirements for a USB charger such as for a cell phone. Students will take data on these devices and calculate, graph and compare efficiencies of different devices. Devices used in...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
1. Students will use multimeters to measure voltage and current in circuits. 2. Students will use collected data and be able to make power calculations from this data. 3. Students will also be able to calculate efficiency from their power calculations. 4. Students will be able to compare efficiencies in order to identify the circuit that is most efficient. 5. Students will be able to make circuits from a diagram and vice versa.
Pedagogy & Practice:
Author:
Brett McFarland
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
3 hours
Car Charger Schematic

DC to AC to DC Efficiency

Grades:
7-12
Unit:
Lesson Number:
5
Description:
This is part of the Off the Grid Unit. This lesson will continue to deal with efficiency of USB charging devices, but this time we will be using an inverter in order to create AC voltage from a battery pack, and then use a standard AC charger (what you would...
Energy Content:
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
1. Students will use multimeters to measure voltage and current in circuits. 2. Students will use collected data and be able to make power calculations from this data. 3. Students will also be able to calculate efficiency from their power calculations. 4. Students will be able to compare efficiencies in order to identify the circuit that is most efficient. 5. Students will be able to make circuits from a diagram and vice versa. 6. Students will know what an inverter is and what it does.
Pedagogy & Practice:
Author:
Brett McFarland
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
3 hours
BioLite

Biolite - Fire to Phone Charging

Grades:
7-12
Unit:
Lesson Number:
6
Description:
This is the 6 th part in the Off the Grid Unit. This lesson continues to look at the efficiency of USB charging devices, but this time we will be using a commercially available camping stove that uses heat to create electricity in order to charge a phone...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
1. Students will use thermometers and a stopwatch to calculate power. 2. Students will use collected data and be able to make power calculations from this data. 3. Students will also be able to calculate efficiency from their power calculations. 4. Students will be able to compare efficiencies to other circuits tested in this unit. 5. Students will know what the Peltier Junction does.
Author:
Brett McFarland
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour
Car Charger Schematic

Designing a Solar Phone Charger

Grades:
7-12
Unit:
Lesson Number:
7
Description:
This is the culminating activity for the unit “Off the Grid.” Students will be given some restricted parameters around which to design a solar powered battery operated phone (or other USB device) charger . They will charge the AA battery packs that have been...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
1. Students will be able to design a device that can charge a phone with 4 hours of sun a day. 2. Students will use collected data and be able to support their design – i.e. the data will show that the unit will produce enough energy to charge a phone given it receives 4 hours of sun a day. 3. Students will also be able to calculate efficiency from their power calculations. 4. Students will be able to compare efficiencies of their circuit to others tested in this unit. 5. Students can calculate how much energy 4 hours of sunlight can produce on the solar modules they will use.
Pedagogy & Practice:
Author:
Brett McFarland
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
5 hours
Sun in Space

Our Place in Space: Cosmic Rays

Grades:
3-5
Lesson Number:
1
Description:
NOTE: SUN PHOTOMETER SUMULATOR AT CAS.HAMPTONU.EDU SEEMS TO BE NO LONGER AVAILABLE. Using a map of school buildings, students will pick four areas to monitor over the year using wireless weather stations and the Solar Power Meter. In a following lesson,...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will learn how the sun affects their school by measuring the temperature at different locations around the building in the fall, winter, and spring. They will learn how to measure solar energy and look for trends in temperature and solar power over the year. These trends will then be used to investigate how energy reaches Earth from the Sun.
Author:
Jamie Repasky
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
3 hours
Sun in Space

Our Place in Space: Cosmic Ray Detector

Grades:
3-5
Lesson Number:
2
Description:
The students will be introduced to solar radiation with an activity centered on using a cloud chamber to visualize cosmic rays.
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
• Students will discuss how energy from the sun is transmitted in a variety of forms that perform different amounts of work. • Students will identify multiple pieces of evidence that demonstrate energy being transmitted from the sun.
Author:
Jamie Repasky
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour