Name of Activity

Tiny Homes – Intro to Renewable Energy, Circuit Design




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


Building/EDP, Electricity & Magnetism

Grade Level

5, 6, 7


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.


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)


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


  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

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