Curricular Unit: Energy-Efficient Housing

Contributed by: Integrated Teaching and Learning Program, College of Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder

Quick Look

Grade Level: 9 (9-11)

Choose From: 5 lessons and 8 activities

Subject Areas: Physical Science, Physics

A photograph shows the Nottingham HOUSE (home optimising the use of solar energy) built as part of the Solar Decathlon 2010 event--a cube-shaped structure.
Students learn about designing energy-efficient smart housing that is environmentally friendly
copyright
Copyright © 2011 Robshipman, Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_Energy_Homes#/media/File:CEH_Nottingham_House.jpg

Summary

We all know that it takes energy to provide us with the basics of shelter: heating, cooling, lighting, electricity, sanitation and cooking. To create energy-efficient housing that is practical for people to use every day requires combining many smaller systems that each perform a function well, and making smart decisions about the sources of power we use. Through five lessons on the topics of heat transfer, circuits, daylighting, electricity from renewable energy sources, and passive solar design, students learn about the science, math and engineering that go into designing energy-efficient components of smart housing that is environmentally friendly. Through numerous design/build/analyze activities, students create a solar water heater, swamp cooler, thermostat, model houses for testing, model greenhouse, and wind and water turbine prototypes. It is best if students are concurrently taking Algebra 1 in order to complete some of the worksheets.
This engineering curriculum meets Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Engineering Connection

Engineers are the creative people who are always coming up with ingenious and better ways to provide us with reliable and energy-efficient shelter. Energy-efficiency means performing some task so it uses the least amount of energy possible. Using energy wisely might involve conserving and minimizing the initial energy required to create an engineered product or system, and/or designing its ongoing energy use to be as minimal as possible and/or use renewable energy sources. Engineers design energy-efficient technologies for buildings, homes, transportation, power systems and industry to reduce consumption and expense of our energy resources.

Unit Overview

Overview of topics by lesson: 1) heat transfer, especially solar water heaters and swamp coolers, 2) electrical circuits, including designing a thermostat, 3) lighting, especially daylighting and greenhouses, 4) renewable and non-renewable energy sources, especially water and wind power, and 5) passive solar design, especially for heating.

Educational Standards

Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.

All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN), a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).

In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics; within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.

NGSS Performance Expectation

MS-PS3-5. Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object. (Grades 6 - 8)

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This unit focuses on the following Three Dimensional Learning aspects of NGSS:
Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Construct, use, and present oral and written arguments supported by empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support or refute an explanation or a model for a phenomenon.

Alignment agreement:

Science knowledge is based upon logical and conceptual connections between evidence and explanations.

Alignment agreement:

When the motion energy of an object changes, there is inevitably some other change in energy at the same time.

Alignment agreement:

Energy may take different forms (e.g. energy in fields, thermal energy, energy of motion).

Alignment agreement:

NGSS Performance Expectation

MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem. (Grades 6 - 8)

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This unit focuses on the following Three Dimensional Learning aspects of NGSS:
Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Evaluate competing design solutions based on jointly developed and agreed-upon design criteria.

Alignment agreement:

There are systematic processes for evaluating solutions with respect to how well they meet the criteria and constraints of a problem.

Alignment agreement:

  • Use units as a way to understand problems and to guide the solution of multi-step problems; choose and interpret units consistently in formulas; choose and interpret the scale and the origin in graphs and data displays. (Grades 9 - 12) More Details

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  • Solve linear equations and inequalities in one variable, including equations with coefficients represented by letters. (Grades 9 - 12) More Details

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More Curriculum Like This

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.

Elementary Lesson
Passive Solar Design

Students are introduced to passive solar design for buildings — an approach that uses the sun's energy and the surrounding climate to provide natural heating and cooling. They learn about some of the disadvantages of conventional heating and cooling and how engineers incorporate passive solar design...

High School Lesson
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."

High School Lesson
Light Up Your Life

Students are introduced to the correct technical vocabulary for lighting, which is different than layperson's terms. They learn about lamp (light bulb) technology and how to identify the various types of lighting in their spaces. They are also introduced to lighting controls as a means for saving en...

Middle School Lesson

Unit Schedule

Contributors

See individual lessons and activities.

Copyright

© 2007 by Regents of the University of Colorado

Supporting Program

Integrated Teaching and Learning Program, College of Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder

Acknowledgements

This digital library content was developed by the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program under National Science Foundation GK-12 grant no. 0338326, and the Discovery-Learning Apprentice Program at CU-Boulder's College of Engineering and Applied Science. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Last modified: February 15, 2018

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