Editor selections by Topic and Unit

The Physics Front is a free service provided by the AAPT in partnership with the NSF/NSDL.

Website Detail Page

Item Picture
published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
supported by the International Business Machines
This is a 3-day unit for Grades 5-8 that explores principles of passive solar design as students work on teams to build a solar structure with four walls, four windows, two doors, and a roof. Learners must consider ventilation, materials choices, and orientation of the structure for optimal heat absorption. Principles of conduction, convection, and radiation are addressed in the lesson. After construction, students test their solar houses to determine how well they regulate temperature.

The lesson follows a module format that includes objectives and learner outcomes, problem sets, student guides, recommended reading, illustrated procedures, worksheets, and background information about the engineering connections. This collection is part of a website maintained by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
Editor's Note: Truly passive solar designs use convection, radiation, and conduction to distribute heat. This lesson, which meets a wide array of content standards, is a good foundation for further study of active solar design, green technologies, and photovoltaics. See Related Materials for links to the free NOVA video "Saved By the Sun", a tour of a virtual photovoltaic cell, and a short video about how a child's science fair project inspired a geophysicist to design a green CO2 capture device.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Work and Energy
= Conservation of Energy
Education Practices
- Active Learning
Electricity & Magnetism
- Electromagnetic Radiation
Other Sciences
- Engineering
Thermo & Stat Mech
- First Law
= Heat Transfer
- Middle School
- Elementary School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Instructor Guide/Manual
= Laboratory
= Lesson/Lesson Plan
= Student Guide
= Unit of Instruction
- Audio/Visual
= Image/Image Set
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Lesson Plan
- Activity
- Laboratory
- Assessment
- New teachers
  • Currently 0.0/5

Want to rate this material?
Login here!

Safety Warnings
Minimal Danger   No Safety Equipment Necessary  


Intended Users:
Educator
Learner
Formats:
application/pdf
application/ms-word
text/html
Access Rights:
Free access
Restriction:
© 2010 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Keywords:
applied physics, conduction, convection, engineering activity, engineering design, engineering lessons, heat, heating and air conditioning
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created July 27, 2012 by Gnana Subramaniam
Record Updated:
August 16, 2016 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
December 4, 2010

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

1. The Nature of Science

1B. Scientific Inquiry
  • 3-5: 1B/E1. Scientific investigations may take many different forms, including observing what things are like or what is happening somewhere, collecting specimens for analysis, and doing experiments.
  • 3-5: 1B/E2b. One reason for following directions carefully and for keeping records of one's work is to provide information on what might have caused differences in investigations.
  • 6-8: 1B/M1b. Scientific investigations usually involve the collection of relevant data, the use of logical reasoning, and the application of imagination in devising hypotheses and explanations to make sense of the collected data.

3. The Nature of Technology

3B. Design and Systems
  • 3-5: 3B/E1. There is no perfect design. Designs that are best in one respect (safety or ease of use, for example) may be inferior in other ways (cost or appearance). Usually some features must be sacrificed to get others.
  • 6-8: 3B/M1. Design usually requires taking into account not only physical and biological constraints, but also economic, political, social, ethical, and aesthetic ones.
  • 6-8: 3B/M3a. Almost all control systems have inputs, outputs, and feedback.
  • 6-8: 3B/M3bc. The essence of control is comparing information about what is happening to what people want to happen and then making appropriate adjustments. This procedure requires sensing information, processing it, and making changes.

4. The Physical Setting

4D. The Structure of Matter
  • 3-5: 4D/E6. All materials have certain physical properties, such as strength, hardness, flexibility, durability, resistance to water and fire, and ease of conducting heat.
  • 6-8: 4D/M9. Materials vary in how they respond to electric currents, magnetic forces, and visible light or other electromagnetic waves.
4E. Energy Transformations
  • 3-5: 4E/E2b. When warmer things are put with cooler ones, heat is transferred from the warmer ones to the cooler ones.
  • 3-5: 4E/E2c. A warmer object can warm a cooler one by contact or at a distance.
  • 6-8: 4E/M3. Thermal energy is transferred through a material by the collisions of atoms within the material. Over time, the thermal energy tends to spread out through a material and from one material to another if they are in contact. Thermal energy can also be transferred by means of currents in air, water, or other fluids. In addition, some thermal energy in all materials is transformed into light energy and radiated into the environment by electromagnetic waves; that light energy can be transformed back into thermal energy when the electromagnetic waves strike another material. As a result, a material tends to cool down unless some other form of energy is converted to thermal energy in the material.
4F. Motion
  • 3-5: 4F/E3. Light travels and tends to maintain its direction of motion until it interacts with an object or material. Light can be absorbed, redirected, bounced back, or allowed to pass through.

8. The Designed World

8C. Energy Sources and Use
  • 6-8: 8C/M5. Energy from the sun (and the wind and water energy derived from it) is available indefinitely. Because the transfer of energy from these resources is weak and variable, systems are needed to collect and concentrate the energy.

12. Habits of Mind

12C. Manipulation and Observation
  • 3-5: 12C/E1. Choose appropriate common materials for making simple mechanical constructions and repairing things.
  • 3-5: 12C/E3. Keep written or electronic records of information so that the records are understandable weeks or months later.
12D. Communication Skills
  • 3-5: 12D/E7. Write a clear and accurate description of a real-world object or event.
  • 6-8: 12D/M1. Organize information in simple tables and graphs and identify relationships they reveal.

Next Generation Science Standards

Energy (MS-PS3)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (6-8)
  • Apply scientific principles to design, construct, and test a device that either minimizes or maximizes thermal energy transfer. (MS-PS3-3)

Engineering Design (MS-ETS1)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (6-8)
  • Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions. (MS-ETS1-1)
  • Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem. (MS-ETS1-2)

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Definitions of Energy (PS3.A)
  • The term "heat" as used in everyday language refers both to thermal energy (the motion of atoms or molecules within a substance) and the transfer of that thermal energy from one object to another. In science, heat is used only for this second meaning; it refers to the energy transferred due to the temperature difference between two objects. (6-8)
Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer (PS3.B)
  • Energy is spontaneously transferred out of hotter regions or objects and into colder ones. (6-8)
Electromagnetic Radiation (PS4.B)
  • When light shines on an object, it is reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through the object, depending on the object's material and the frequency (color) of the light. (6-8)
Defining and Delimiting an Engineering Problem (ETS1.A)
  • The more precisely a design task's criteria and constraints can be defined, the more likely it is that the designed solution will be successful. Specification of constraints includes consideration of scientific principles and other relevant knowledge that is likely to limit possible solutions. (6-8)
Developing Possible Solutions (ETS1.B)
  • A solution needs to be tested, and then modified on the basis of the test results, in order to improve it. (6-8)
  • Sometimes parts of different solutions can be combined to create a solution that is better than any of its predecessors. (6-8)
Optimizing the Design Solution (ETS1.C)
  • The iterative process of testing the most promising solutions and modifying what is proposed on the basis of the test results leads to greater refinement and ultimately to an optimal solution. (6-8)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Energy and Matter (2-12)
  • The transfer of energy can be tracked as energy flows through a designed or natural system. (6-8)
  • Energy may take different forms (e.g. energy in fields, thermal energy, energy of motion). (6-8)
Structure and Function (K-12)
  • Structures can be designed to serve particular functions by taking into account properties of different materials, and how materials can be shaped and used. (6-8)
Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World (K-12)
  • The uses of technologies and any limitations on their use are driven by individual or societal needs, desires, and values; by the findings of scientific research; and by differences in such factors as climate, natural resources, and economic conditions. (6-8)
  • All human activity draws on natural resources and has both short and long-term consequences, positive as well as negative, for the health of people and the natural environment. (6-8)
Science is a Human Endeavor (3-12)
  • Science is a result of human endeavors, imagination, and creativity. (9-12)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Analyzing and Interpreting Data (K-12)
  • Analyzing data in 6–8 builds on K–5 and progresses to extending quantitative analysis to investigations, distinguishing between correlation and causation, and basic statistical techniques of data and error analysis. (6-8)
    • Analyze and interpret data to determine similarities and differences in findings. (6-8)
Asking Questions and Defining Problems (K-12)
  • Asking questions and defining problems in grades 6–8 builds from grades K–5 experiences and progresses to specifying relationships between variables, and clarifying arguments and models. (6-8)
    • Define a design problem that can be solved through the development of an object, tool, process or system and includes multiple criteria and constraints, including scientific knowledge that may limit possible solutions. (6-8)
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions (K-12)
  • Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to include constructing explanations and designing solutions supported by multiple sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories. (6-8)
    • Undertake a design project, engaging in the design cycle, to construct and/or implement a solution that meets specific design criteria and constraints. (6-8)
Planning and Carrying Out Investigations (K-12)
  • Planning and carrying out investigations to answer questions or test solutions to problems in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to include investigations that use multiple variables and provide evidence to support explanations or design solutions. (6-8)
    • Plan an investigation individually and collaboratively, and in the design: identify independent and dependent variables and controls, what tools are needed to do the gathering, how measurements will be recorded, and how many data are needed to support a claim. (6-8)

NGSS Nature of Science Standards (K-12)

Analyzing and Interpreting Data (K-12)
  • Analyzing data in 6–8 builds on K–5 and progresses to extending quantitative analysis to investigations, distinguishing between correlation and causation, and basic statistical techniques of data and error analysis. (6-8)
Asking Questions and Defining Problems (K-12)
  • Asking questions and defining problems in grades 6–8 builds from grades K–5 experiences and progresses to specifying relationships between variables, and clarifying arguments and models. (6-8)
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions (K-12)
  • Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to include constructing explanations and designing solutions supported by multiple sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories. (6-8)
Planning and Carrying Out Investigations (K-12)
  • Planning and carrying out investigations to answer questions or test solutions to problems in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to include investigations that use multiple variables and provide evidence to support explanations or design solutions. (6-8)

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments

Measurement and Data (K-5)

Represent and interpret data. (1-5)
  • 3.MD.4 Generate measurement data by measuring lengths using rulers marked with halves and fourths of an inch. Show the data by making a line plot, where the horizontal scale is marked off in appropriate units— whole numbers, halves, or quarters.

Common Core State Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects 6—12

Text Types and Purposes (6-12)
  • 2. Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes. (WHST.6-8.2)
Research to Build and Present Knowledge (6-12)
  • WHST.6-8.7 Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration.

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.


Topic: Conservation of Energy
Unit Title: Renewable Energy Sources

Looking for ways to integrate engineering design into the science classroom? This is a 3-day unit for Grades 5-8 that explores passive solar design as students work on teams to build a solar structure with four walls, four windows, two doors, and a roof. They must consider ventilation, conduction, materials choices, and orientation of the structure for optimal heat absorption. After construction, students test their solar houses to determine how well they regulate temperature.

Link to Unit:
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
(Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2010), WWW Document, (http://tryengineering.org/lesson-plans/solar-structures).
AJP/PRST-PER
TryEngineering: Solar Structures, (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2010), <http://tryengineering.org/lesson-plans/solar-structures>.
APA Format
TryEngineering: Solar Structures. (2010, December 4). Retrieved December 11, 2016, from Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers: http://tryengineering.org/lesson-plans/solar-structures
Chicago Format
International Business Machines. TryEngineering: Solar Structures. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, December 4, 2010. http://tryengineering.org/lesson-plans/solar-structures (accessed 11 December 2016).
MLA Format
TryEngineering: Solar Structures. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2010. 4 Dec. 2010. International Business Machines. 11 Dec. 2016 <http://tryengineering.org/lesson-plans/solar-structures>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {TryEngineering: Solar Structures}, Publisher = {Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers}, Volume = {2016}, Number = {11 December 2016}, Month = {December 4, 2010}, Year = {2010} }
Refer Export Format

%T TryEngineering: Solar Structures
%D December 4, 2010
%I Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
%U http://tryengineering.org/lesson-plans/solar-structures
%O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D December 4, 2010
%T TryEngineering: Solar Structures
%I Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
%V 2016
%N 11 December 2016
%8 December 4, 2010
%9 application/pdf
%U http://tryengineering.org/lesson-plans/solar-structures


Disclaimer: ComPADRE offers citation styles as a guide only. We cannot offer interpretations about citations as this is an automated procedure. Please refer to the style manuals in the Citation Source Information area for clarifications.

Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Style.org: Electronic References.

The Chicago Style presented is based on information from Examples of Chicago-Style Documentation.

The MLA Style presented is based on information from the MLA FAQ.

This resource is stored in 5 shared folders.

You must login to access shared folders.

TryEngineering: Solar Structures:

Same topic as NOVA: How Do Solar Panels Work?

Learners take a virtual tour of a photovoltaic cell to see how it acts to establish an electric field and generate electricity from sunlight.

relation by Caroline Hall
Is Supplemented By NOVA: Capturing Carbon

12-minute video details how a girl's science fair project inspired a geophysicist to design and patent a device to capture carbon dioxide in the air.

relation by Caroline Hall
Is Supplemented By NOVA: Saved by the Sun

53-minute video by NOVA takes a realistic view of solar power: its promises, challenges, and the hope it holds for powering the future. Appropriate for Grades 6-12.

relation by Caroline Hall
Covers the Same Topic (Different Course Level) As TeachEngineering: Zero-Energy Housing

A somewhat more advanced lab activity for Grades 7-9 that also explores principles of passive solar design.

relation by Caroline Hall

Know of another related resource? Login to relate this resource to it.
Save to my folders

Supplements

Contribute

Related Materials

Same topic as

NOVA: How Do Solar Panels Work?

Is Supplemented By

NOVA: Capturing Carbon

Is Supplemented By

NOVA: Saved by the Sun

More...

Similar Materials

Featured By

Physics Front
Jan 3 - Mar 15, 2016