the National Energy Education Development Project
Available Languages: English, Spanish
This inquiry-based curriculum unit for Grades 1-3 introduces children to basic concepts of solar energy. It is noteworthy because the developers approach energy as a physical science concept, rather than as a fuel or source of power. Learners conduct investigations with live plants, UV detection beads, light sensitive paper, a radiometer, and glow toys. The culminating activity is the design, building, and testing of a solar oven. Specific science concepts covered include: visible light and ultraviolet light as parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, the water cycle and wind production, asking scientific questions, gathering data, and conversion of light energy to heat.The resource provides lesson plans, warm-up questions, detailed lab procedures, and classroom presentation materials for teaching an entire unit.
See Related Materials for a companion unit, also developed by NEED, for Grades 4-5 that extends the concepts of this unit in a pedagogically appropriate sequence for elementary school.
The NEED Project is a national initiative to bring innovative curriculum materials in energy education to teachers and learners from the primary grades through college.
Editor's Note:One of the best resources we've found for building a foundation to understand energy conversion. The activities will be great fun for kids. Teachers can either purchase a pre-assembled kit from NEED for $200 or buy your own materials from science supply stores for less than $100 (this will serve a class of 30).
chemical energy, clean energy, energy forms, energy lessons, energy sources, engineering design, green energy, light energy, photovoltaic cell, renewable energy, solar collector, solar oven, thermal energy
Metadata instance created
April 17, 2013
by Caroline Hall
February 13, 2014
by Lyle Barbato
AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)
1. The Nature of Science
1B. Scientific Inquiry
K-2: 1B/P2. Tools such as thermometers, magnifiers, rulers, or balances often give more information about things than can be obtained by just observing things unaided.
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.
4. The Physical Setting
4E. Energy Transformations
K-2: 4E/P1. The sun warms the land, air, and water.
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.
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
3-5: 8C/E1. Moving air and water can be used to run machines.
3-5: 8C/E2. Sunlight is used to run many devices.
3-5: 8C/E4. Some people try to reduce the amount of fuels they use in order to conserve resources, reduce pollution, or save money.
11. Common Themes
11C. Constancy and Change
K-2: 11C/P3b. Small changes can sometimes be detected by comparing counts or measurements at different times.
3-5: 11C/E2b. Often the best way to tell which kinds of change are happening is to make a table or graph of measurements.
12. Habits of Mind
12A. Values and Attitudes
K-2: 12A/P1. Raise questions about the world and be willing to seek answers to these questions by making careful observations and trying things out.
3-5: 12A/E1. Keep clear and accurate records of investigations and observations.
3-5: 12A/E2. Offer reasons for claims and consider reasons suggested by others.
12B. Computation and Estimation
K-2: 12B/P1. Use whole numbers in ordering, counting, identifying, measuring, and describing objects and events.
12C. Manipulation and Observation
K-2: 12C/P3. Make something out of paper, cardboard, cloth, wood, plastic, metal, or existing objects that can actually be used to perform a task.
K-2: 12C/P4. Measure the length in whole units of objects using rulers and tape measures.
3-5: 12C/E3. Keep written or electronic records of information so that the records are understandable weeks or months later.
12D. Communication Skills
K-2: 12D/P3. Interpret pictures, drawings, and videos of real-world objects and events.
3-5: 12D/E3. Use numerical data in describing and comparing objects and events.
This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.
Topic: Conservation of Energy Unit Title: Teaching Energy in the Elementary Grades
One of the best resources we've found for building a foundation to understand energy conversion. Kids conduct investigations with live plants, UV detection beads, light sensitive paper, a radiometer, glow toys, and solar balloons. If time permits, finish up with an engineering project to design & build a working solar oven. Completely turn-key. Purchase a pre-assembled kit from NEED for $200 or buy your own materials -- less than $100 will serve a class of 30.
<a href="http://www.thephysicsfront.org/items/detail.cfm?ID=12722">National Energy Education Development Project. NEED Project: The Sun and Its Energy. Manassas: National Energy Education Development Project, 2010.</a>
NEED Project: The Sun and Its Energy. (2010). Retrieved September 29, 2016, from National Energy Education Development Project: http://www.need.org/files/curriculum/guides/The%20Sun%20and%20its%20Energy.pdf
National Energy Education Development Project. NEED Project: The Sun and Its Energy. Manassas: National Energy Education Development Project, 2010. http://www.need.org/files/curriculum/guides/The%20Sun%20and%20its%20Energy.pdf (accessed 29 September 2016).
%T NEED Project: The Sun and Its Energy %D 2010 %I National Energy Education Development Project %C Manassas %U http://www.need.org/files/curriculum/guides/The%20Sun%20and%20its%20Energy.pdf %O application/pdf
%0 Electronic Source %D 2010 %T NEED Project: The Sun and Its Energy %I National Energy Education Development Project %V 2016 %N 29 September 2016 %9 application/pdf %U http://www.need.org/files/curriculum/guides/The%20Sun%20and%20its%20Energy.pdf
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This 8-part curriculum unit extends the solar energy investigation, as kids in Grades 4-5 learn about photovoltaic cells, conversion of radiant energy to chemical energy, measuring heat intensity with a radiometer, and building a solar house with a working PV cell.