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Solar Heat

Elementary, Middle

Description

This resource consists of a two-part lesson, a student backgrounder that introduces learners to solar heat for cooking and instructions for building and testing their own solar ovens. All the information for students, including facts and model plans, are available on the Re-energy website for download. Links to other sources for student research are also listed on the site.

The backgrounder provides:

  • information on solar heat and ways of capturing it
  • pictures of solar heat capturing devices
  • four questions that get students thinking beyond the information

The lesson provides:

  • a general description
  • learning objectives
  • a materials list for each period
  • teaching procedures for period one – familiarization with information and building the solar oven
  • teaching procedures for period two – testing the solar ovens
  • a student worksheet

The detailed construction plans include:

  • more background information on the Sun’s energy
  • safety precautions
  • tools and materials list (check these out well before you start)
  • reflector templates
  • step-by-step instructions with illustrations
  • instructions for testing the oven

General Assessment

Strengths

  • The lesson is thoroughly described and plans for the model are included.
  • The needed materials are inexpensive and easy to access.
  • Students can create the model with minimal adult help and supervision.

Weaknesses

  • The supplies list is extensive and will take time to assemble.

What important ideas are implied by the resource, but not taught explicitly?

  • Solar heat is a powerful, usable sustainable energy choice.
  • Solar heating is a natural process.

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Themes Addressed

  • Energy (3)

    • Alternative Energy
    • Energy Generation
    • Energy Use

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Bias Minimization Very Good
  • Pembina clearly states their philosophy on sustainable energy.
Bias Minimization: Presents as many different points of view as necessary to fairly address the issue(s).
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good
  • Multiple applications of solar heating solutions are introduced.
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

The resource effectively addresses multiple dimensions of problems and solutions. These should include the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

Respects Complexity Very Good
  • Students are exploring a possible solution instead of a problem. Complexity within the solution are presented for learner consideration.
Respects Complexity: The complexity of problems is respected. A systems-thinking approach is encouraged.
Action Experience Very Good
  • Students are acting as research scientists to create and investigate current technology.
  • There are multiple extension activities included with the lesson.
Action Experience: Provides opportunities for authentic action experiences in which students can work to make positive change in their communities.
  • Poor = action activities poorly developed
  • Satisfactory = action opportunities are extensions instead of being integral to the main part of the activity
Action Skills Very Good
  • Increasing familiarity with solar heat may make it seem like a more viable future possibility in students’ minds.
Action Skills: Explicitly teaches the skills needed for students to take effective action (e.g. letter-writing, consensus-building, etc.).
Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered
  • This is not an aspect of the lesson.
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Very Good
  • Being out-of-doors is necessary to test the oven.
Personal Affinity with Earth: Actively encourages a personal affinity with non-humans and with Earth. For example, this may involve practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors.
Locally-Focused Very Good
  • This is a concrete lesson in which students are creating and testing a model.
Locally-Focused: Encourages learning that is locally-focused/made concrete in some way and is relevant to the lives of the learners.
Past, Present & Future Very Good
  • The lesson reviews current solar heating technology with applications for the future.
  • The idea that  the sun sustains life on Earth provides a connection to the past.
Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Satisfactory
  • The lesson uses a combination of structured and guided inquiry.
  • Extension ideas and links that are provided encourage looking at the solution from a broader perspective.
Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Learning Good
  • The resource provides opportunities for learning in a number of traditional subject areas.

Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Learning: Multidisciplinary= addresses a number of different subjects Interdisciplinary= integrated approach that blurs subject lines Good: The resource provides opportunities for learning in a number of traditional 'subject' areas (eg. Language Arts, Science, Math, Art, etc.). Very Good: The resource takes an integrated approach to teaching that blurs the lines between subject boundaries.
Discovery Learning Poor/Not considered
Discovery Learning:

Learning activities are constructed so that students discover and build knowledge for themselves and develop largely on their own an understanding of concepts, principles and relationships. They often do this by wrestling with questions, and/or solving problems by exploring their environment, and/or physically manipulating objects and/or performing experiments.

  • Satisfactory = Students are provided with intriguing questions, materials to use & some direction on how to find answers. The learning involves unique experience & provides some opportunity for an 'ah-hah' event
  • Good = Students are provided with intriguing questions, materials to use, & make their own decisions on how to find answers. The learning involves unique experience & provides definite opportunity for an 'ah-hah' event.
  • Very Good = Students choose what questions to investigate as well as the materials/strategies to use to answer them.
Values Clarification Satisfactory
  • The questions asked of the students provide some opportunity for personal reflection.
Values Clarification: Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
  • Poor = Students are not explicitly given an opportunity to clarify their own values.
  • Satisfactory = Students are given a formal opportunity to clarify their own values. The range of perspectives in the resource is limited, therefore, students do not have an appropriate amount of information to clarify their own values.
Differentiated Instruction Very Good
  • The activity will appeal to a range of learning styles, strengths and groups.
Differentiated Instruction: Activities address a range of learning styles/different intelligences. They teach to both cognitive and affective domains. Accommodations are suggested for people with learning difficulties.
Experiential Learning Very Good
  • The model making is completely experiential.
  • Being in, and using, the sun will help build connections to the out-of-doors.
Experiential Learning: Direct, authentic experiences are used.
  • Satisfactory = simulation
  • Good = authentic experience
  • Very Good = authentic experience related to the primary goal of the lesson
Cooperative Learning Very Good
  • Students work in groups to complete the questions and build the model.
Cooperative Learning: Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
  • Satisfactory = students work in groups
  • Good = cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good = cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Good
  • Concluding questions are provided with sample answers.
Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Good
  • Opportunity for shared learning occurs during the experiment and discussion time.
Peer Teaching: Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
  • Satisfactory = incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good = an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Poor/Not considered
  • Although different ways of harnessing the sun’s heat are presented, case studies are not a component of the resource.
Case Studies: Relevant case studies are used. Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events in real situations that can be used to examine concepts in an authentic context.
Locus of Control Satisfactory
  • The lesson is teacher directed with the exception of the actual experimentation.
Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.