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Name of Activity

Tiny Homes – Intro to Renewable Energy, Circuit Design

Author

STOMP

Keywords

tiny homes, sustainability, electricity, circuits, renewable energy, building, design

Subject

Building/EDP, Electricity & Magnetism

Grade Level

5, 6, 7

Time

1 Hour

Brief Description

Introduce students to the idea of renewable energy, and why renewable energy sources (water, wind, solar…) are better for the environment than fossil fuels. Demonstrate how mechanical and/ or solar energy can be turned into electricity. Students begin designing circuits for their tiny homes.

Learning Goals:

Students will understand the basics of how electricity can be generated from natural sources. Students will use their knowledge of electricity to design circuits for their tiny homes.

Materials:

hand crank demo (with lego motor or snap circuit crank and an LED), pictures of renewable energy sources, snap circuit kits, Lego or snap circuit solar panel (if you want)

Preparation:

have students in their tiny home building groups, test the demo circuit using either solar panels or a crank to light up and LED, find pictures of renewable energy sources, bring scrap paper (printed with a rectangle to represent their tiny home) for designing circuits

Knowledge Background

Teacher should have the students in groups when you arrive, ideally teacher has some knowledge of electricity and renewable energy

Procedure

  1. Recap what the class learned the week before with the snap circuit activity. Students should understand how open and closed circuits work and the basics of parallel and series circuits.
    1. Also review directionality in circuits (ie positive and negative terminals) and how this is important especially for LEDs.
  2. Explain the concept of renewable energy. Make clear the difference between renewable energy sources and fossil fuels. Show some pictures of dams, solar panels, wind turbines, etc.
    1. If you want you can do a short sorting activity where students have to name energy sources as either renewable or non-renewable.
  3. Demonstrate renewable energy with the hand crank or solar panel demo. Explain how they can adapt this to their tiny homes.
  4. For the remainder of class, give each group the pieces of scrap paper and have them design circuits for their tiny homes. If there’s enough time each students can come up with his/ her own design and then pitch it to the group.
  5. Ask students to show where they include series and parallel circuits in their design
  6. Ask each group to come up with a list of materials that they want to build their circuit for the house next week.

Previous Activity (if applicable)

Tiny Homes – Continue Circuit Building

Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable)

Tiny Homes and Energy Resources

Name of Activity

Tiny Homes – Continue Circuit Building

Author

STOMP

Keywords

tiny homes, sustainability, electricity, circuits, snap circuits, building, design

Subject

Building/EDP, Electricity & Magnetism

Grade Level

5, 6, 7

Time

1 Hour

Brief Description

Introduce snap circuit kits. Teach parallel and series circuits and have students practice with the snap circuits.

Learning Goals:

Students will work in groups to further their understanding of circuits with the snap circuit kits. Students will see firsthand the effects of using parallel and series circuits.

Materials:

snap circuit kits

Preparation:

Put students in groups of 3-4 (doesn’t have to be the same group as for tiny homes), snap circuit kit for each group (each kit should have batteries, a light, a fan, a switch and enough connectors)

Knowledge Background

Teacher should have the students in groups when you arrive, ideally teacher has some knowledge of electricity and renewable energy

Procedure

  1. Recap what students learned the week before with squishy circuits.
    1. Discuss the concepts of open and closed circuits, electron flow, positive and negative charges.
  2. Teach parallel and series circuits. This can be done by drawing the circuits on the board and having students explain or act out where the electrons will go.
    1. Show how if a light goes out (or the circuit breaks) in a series circuit the whole circuit will go down, but in a parallel circuit the other components will be OK.
    2. Demo how a switch works by turning the classroom lights on and off
  3. Hand out snap circuit kits.
  4. Give students about half of the remaining time to play and familiarize themselves with the kits.
  5. When all of the groups are reasonably comfortable with the kits give them small challenges. For instance ask them to change what they’ve built from a parallel to series circuit or vice versa.
    1. Take a break to explain how parallel circuits are more robust if a component burns out. One way to do this is by drawing a parallel circuit on the board and have them explain what happens when you erase different parts of it.
  6. As you wrap up tell students to start thinking about how to implement circuits in their tiny homes.

Previous Activity (if applicable)

Squishy Circuits

Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable)

Tiny Homes and Energy Resources

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