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Unit Renewable Energy:

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Grade Level: 4 (3-5)

Choose From: 3 lessons and 9 activities

Subject Areas: Earth and Space, Physical Science, Science and Technology

Solar panel reflecting sun
Solar panel reflecting sun
Copyright © Flickr


The sun provides earth with abundant light energy, and we can convert this solar energy into electricity using solar panels. This unit explores solar energy as a renewable energy source. Through engaging activities, students investigate the principles of light energy and design, build and test solar-powered ovens, water heaters, and a mini-city.

Engineering Connection

We are facing many issues with conventional energy sources (fossil fuels, hydropower, nuclear) that are leading engineers to develop innovative alternative renewable energy sources (wind, solar, biomass) to manage the impacts of energy production on the natural environment. Engineers are instrumental in developing low-cost and reliable methods for creating carbon-free, clean energy sources, especially solar power. Continued advances in solar panel designs are making them more affordable, energy-efficient, and able to be integrated into our built environment in innovative ways.

Unit Schedule

Suggested activity order:

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Off the Grid

Students learn and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of renewable and non-renewable energy sources. They also learn about our nation's electric power grid and what it means for a residential home to be "off the grid."

preview of 'Off the Grid' Lesson
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Let the Sun Shine!

Students learn how the sun can be used for energy. They learn about passive solar heating, lighting and cooking, and active solar engineering technologies (such as photovoltaic arrays and concentrating mirrors) that generate electricity.

preview of 'Let the Sun Shine!' Lesson
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Last modified: July 20, 2021

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