Energy ecoSTEM Kit: QuickStart Guide
This is the online-accessible version of the Energy ecoSTEM kit QuickStart guide. This guide is also accessible in a pdf edition below. Other resources are made available as well.
What can you do with the Energy ecoSTEM kit?
Each kit contains supplies to engage a class of 32 students in exciting science and engineering practices as they solve real-world problems and learn about renewable energy. Here are some of the things students can do:
- Observe phenomena and ask questions about energy
- Design and build solar ovens to cook snacks
- Build a device to insulate a penguin ice cube
- Use copper wire and nails to design an experiment with temporary magnets
- Investigate connections between electromagnets and turbines using iron filings
- Design and build devices powered by renewable energy sources, using series and parallel circuits
- Conduct an energy audit with meters to detect energy loss; thermometers to find insulation needs
- Analyze and interpret data to determine sources of fuel used to power a community
- Design, build, test and refine a wind turbine
- Explore ways to increase solar panel effectiveness
- Contribute data to a citizen science project
- Determine the value of personal actions to reduce energy consumption and take action accordingly
- Mini-SkyZ Kits, including
- 4 Wind Turbines
- 4 Solar Cells
- 4 Multimeters
- Kill-A-Watt EZ meters
- Infrared Thermometers
- Alt Energy Snap Circuit
- Aluminum Foil, recycled
- Bioplastic Sheets
- Box, 3” Steel Nails
- Spool, Magnet Wire (80’)
- Packet, coarse sandpaper
- Ice cube trays (penguin)
- Neodymium magnets
Teaching With Your ecoSTEM Kit
Read more about how you can use your ecoSTEM kit along with this QuickStart guide to teach Next Generation Science Standards!
Tips and Tricks for Teaching Outdoors
Eight tips for how to effectively conduct your classroom in the great outdoors!
S1P2. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to demonstrate the effects of magnets on other magnets and other objects.
a. Construct an explanation of how magnets are used in everyday life. (Clarification statement: Everyday life uses could include refrigerator magnets, toys, magnetic latches, and name tags.)
b. Plan and carry out an investigation to demonstrate how magnets attract and repel each other and the effect of magnets on common objects.
S3P1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the ways heat energy is transferred and measured.
a. Ask questions to identify sources of heat energy. (Clarification statement: Examples could include sunlight, friction, and burning.)
b. Plan and carry out an investigation to gather data using thermometers to produce tables and charts that illustrate the effect of sunlight on various objects. (Clarification statement: The use of both Fahrenheit and Celsius temperature scales is expected.)
c. Use tools and every day materials to design and construct a device/structure that will increase/decrease the warming effects of sunlight on various materials. (Clarification statement: Conduction, convection, and radiation are taught in upper grades.)
S5P3. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about magnetism and its relationship to electricity.
a. Construct an argument based on experimental evidence to communicate the differences in function and purpose of an electromagnet and a magnet. (Clarification statement: Function is limited to understanding temporary and permanent magnetism.)
b. Plan and carry out an investigation to observe the interaction between a magnetic field and a magnetic object. (Clarification statement: The interaction should include placing materials of various types (wood, paper, glass, metal, and rocks) and thickness between the magnet and the magnetic object.)
S5P2. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to investigate electricity.
a. Obtain and combine information from multiple sources to explain the difference between naturally occurring electricity (static) and human-harnessed electricity.
b. Design a complete, simple electric circuit, and explain all necessary components.
c. Plan and carry out investigations on common materials to determine if they are insulators or conductors of electricity.
S6E6. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the uses and conservation of various natural resources and how they impact the Earth.
a. Ask questions to determine the differences between renewable/sustainable energy resources (examples: hydro, solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, biomass) and nonrenewable energy resources (examples: nuclear: uranium, fossil fuels: oil, coal, and natural gas), and how they are used in our everyday lives.
S8P2. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the law of conservation of energy to develop arguments that energy can transform from one form to another within a system.
c. Construct an argument to support a claim about the type of energy transformations within a system [e.g., lighting a match (light to heat), turning on a light (electrical to light)].
d. Plan and carry out investigations on the effects of heat transfer on molecular motion as it relates to the collision of atoms (conduction), through space (radiation), or in currents in a liquid or a gas (convection).
S8P5. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about gravity, electricity, and magnetism as major forces acting in nature.
a. Construct an argument using evidence to support the claim that fields (i.e., magnetic fields, gravitational fields, and electric fields) exist between objects exerting forces on each other even when the objects are not in contact.
b. Plan and carry out investigations to demonstrate the distribution of charge in conductors and insulators. (Clarification statement: Include conduction, induction, and friction.)
c. Plan and carry out investigations to identify the factors (e.g., distance between objects, magnetic force produced by an electromagnet with varying number of wire turns, varying number or size of dry cells, and varying size of iron core) that affect the strength of electric and magnetic forces. (Clarification statement: Including, but not limited to, generators or motors.)
High School Physical Science
SPS7. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to explain transformations and flow of energy within a system.
b. Plan and carry out investigations to describe how molecular motion relates to thermal energy changes in terms of conduction, convection, and radiation.
SPS10. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to explain the properties of and relationships between electricity and magnetism.
b. Develop and use models to illustrate and explain the conventional flow (direct and alternating) of current and the flow of electrons in simple series and parallel circuits. (Clarification statement: Advantages and disadvantages of series and parallel circuits should be addressed.)
c. Plan and carry out investigations to determine the relationship between magnetism and the movement of electrical charge. (Clarification statement: Investigations could include electromagnets, simple motors, and generators.)
- MS‐PS1‐1: Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.
- MS‐PS1‐4. Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.
- MS‐PS3‐3. Apply scientific principles to design, construct, and test a device that either minimizes or maximizes thermal energy transfer.*
- MS‐PS3‐4. Plan an investigation to determine the relationships among the energy transferred, the type of matter, the mass, and the change in the average kinetic energy of the particles as measured by the temperature of the sample.