Build and Test a Model Solar House

Construct and test the energy efficiency and solar heat gain of a cardboard model house.

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Construct and measure the energy efficiency and solar heat gain of a cardboard model house. Use a light bulb heater to imitate a real furnace and a temperature sensor to monitor and regulate the internal temperature of the house. Use a bright bulb in a gooseneck lamp to model sunlight at different times of the year, and test the effectiveness of windows for passive solar heating.

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Subject
Engineering, Physics

Focus Area
Probeware

Grade Level
Middle School, High School

License
CC BY 4.0

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008)

1. The Nature of Science

1B. Scientific Inquiry
  • 1B/M1b*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that scientific investigations usually involve the collection of relevant data, the use of logical reasoning, and the application of imagination in devising hypotheses and explanations to make sense of the collected data.
1C. The Scientific Enterprise
  • 1C/M6*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that computers have become invaluable in science, mathematics, and technology because they speed up and extend people's ability to collect, store, compile, and analyze data; prepare research reports; and share data and ideas with investigators all over the world.

2. The Nature of Mathematics

2B. Mathematics, Science, and Technology
  • 2B/H3*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that mathematics provides a precise language to describe objects and events and the relationships among them. In addition, mathematics provides tools for solving problems, analyzing data, and making logical arguments.
  • 2B/H6** (SFAA). By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that mathematics is useful in business, industry, music, historical scholarship, politics, sports, medicine, agriculture, engineering, and the social and natural sciences.

3. The Nature of Technology

3A. Technology and Science
  • 3A/M3*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that engineers, architects, and others who engage in design and technology use scientific knowledge to solve practical problems. They also usually have to take human values and limitations into account.
  • 3A/H2. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that mathematics, creativity, logic, and originality are all needed to improve technology.
3B. Design and Systems
  • 3B/M3a. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that almost all control systems have inputs, outputs, and feedback.
3C. Issues in Technology
  • 3C/M8** (BSL). By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that scientific laws, engineering principles, properties of materials, and construction techniques must be taken into account in designing engineering solutions to problems.

4. The Physical Setting

4B. The Earth
  • 4B/H8** (SFAA). By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that the earth has many natural resources of great importance to human life. Some are readily renewable, some are renewable only at great cost, and some are not renewable at all.
4E. Energy Transformations
  • 4E/M1*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that whenever energy appears in one place, it must have disappeared from another. Whenever energy is lost from somewhere, it must have gone somewhere else. Sometimes when energy appears to be lost, it actually has been transferred to a system that is so large that the effect of the transferred energy is imperceptible.
  • 4E/M2*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that energy can be transferred from one system to another (or from a system to its environment) in different ways: 1) thermally, when a warmer object is in contact with a cooler one; 2) mechanically, when two objects push or pull on each other over a distance; 3) electrically, when an electrical source such as a battery or generator is connected in a complete circuit to an electrical device; or 4) by electromagnetic waves.
  • 4E/M4*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that energy appears in different forms and can be transformed within a system. Motion energy is associated with the speed of an object. Thermal energy is associated with the temperature of an object. Gravitational energy is associated with the height of an object above a reference point. Elastic energy is associated with the stretching or compressing of an elastic object. Chemical energy is associated with the composition of a substance. Electrical energy is associated with an electric current in a circuit. Light energy is associated with the frequency of electromagnetic waves.
  • 4E/M6**. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that light and other electromagnetic waves can warm objects. How much an object's temperature increases depends on how intense the light striking its surface is, how long the light shines on the object, and how much of the light is absorbed.
  • 4E/H3*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that as energy spreads out, whether by conduction, convection, or radiation, the total amount of energy stays the same. However, since it is spread out, less can be done with it.

8. The Designed World

8C. Energy Sources and Use
  • 8C/M5*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that energy from the sun (and the wind and water energy derived from it) is available indefinitely. Because the transfer of energy from these resources is weak and variable, systems are needed to collect and concentrate the energy.
  • 8C/M10** (SFAA). By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that some resources are not renewable or renew very slowly. Fuels already accumulated in the earth, for instance, will become more difficult to obtain as the most readily available resources run out. How long the resources will last, however, is difficult to predict. The ultimate limit may be the prohibitive cost of obtaining them.
  • 8C/H6** (SFAA). By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that the useful energy output of a device-that is, what energy is available for further change-is always less than the energy input, with the difference usually appearing as thermal energy. One goal in the design of such devices is to make them as efficient as possible-that is, to maximize the useful output for a given input.
  • 8C/H8** (BSL). By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that sunlight is the ultimate source of most of the energy we use. The energy in fossil fuels such as oil and coal comes from energy that plants captured from the sun long ago.

11. Common Themes

11A. Systems
  • 11A/M1. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that a system can include processes as well as things.
  • 11A/H1. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that a system usually has some properties that are different from those of its parts, but appear because of the interaction of those parts.
  • 11A/H2. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that understanding how things work and designing solutions to problems of almost any kind can be facilitated by systems analysis. In defining a system, it is important to specify its boundaries and subsystems, indicate its relation to other systems, and identify what its input and output are expected to be.
11B. Models
  • 11B/H5** (SFAA). By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that the behavior of a physical model cannot ever be expected to represent the full-scale phenomenon with complete accuracy, not even in the limited set of characteristics being studied. The inappropriateness of a model may be related to differences between the model and what is being modeled.
11C. Constancy and Change
  • 11C/M4. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that symbolic equations can be used to summarize how the quantity of something changes over time or in response to other changes.
  • 11C/H4. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that graphs and equations are useful (and often equivalent) ways for depicting and analyzing patterns of change.

12. Habits of Mind

12B. Computation and Estimation
  • 12B/M7b*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should be able to convert quantities expressed in one unit of measurement into another unit of measurement when necessary to solve a real-world problem.
  • 12B/H1*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should be able to: Use appropriate ratios and proportions, including constant rates, when needed to make calculations for solving real-world problems.
  • 12B/H4*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should be able to use computer spreadsheet, graphing, and database programs to assist in quantitative analysis of real-world objects and events.
12C. Manipulation and Observation
  • 12C/M3*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should be able to make accurate measurements of length, volume, weight, elapsed time, rates, and temperature by using appropriate devices.
  • 12C/M6** (BSL). By the end of the 8th grade, students should be able to make safe electrical connections with various plugs, sockets, and terminals.
12D. Communication Skills
  • 12D/M1. By the end of the 8th grade, students should be able to organize information in simple tables and graphs and identify relationships they reveal.
  • 12D/M6**. By the end of the 8th grade, students should be able to present a brief scientific explanation orally or in writing that includes a claim and the evidence and reasoning that supports the claim.
  • 12D/M11**. By the end of the 8th grade, students should be able to interpret simple symbolic equations.
  • 12D/H7*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should be able to use tables, charts, and graphs in making arguments and claims in oral, written, and visual presentations.

Copyright
© Copyright The Concord Consortium

Record Link
<a href="">The Concord Consortium. Build and Test a Model Solar House. Concord: The Concord Consortium, 2012, May 16.</a>

AIP
Build and Test a Model Solar House (The Concord Consortium, Concord, 2012, May 16), WWW Document, (https://concord.org/).

AJP
Build and Test a Model Solar House (The Concord Consortium, Concord, 2012, May 16), WWW Document, (https://concord.org/).

APA
Build and Test a Model Solar House. (2012, May 16). Retrieved 2017, February 28, from The Concord Consortium: https://concord.org/

Disclaimer: The Concord Consortium offers citation styles as a guide only. We cannot offer interpretations about citations as this is an automated procedure.

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Comments

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Excellent resource.

I plan to use this project in my high school STEM class. I have these questions: a) What are the specific NGSS standards covered upon completion of this project? b) What are the performance expectations? Thank you.

​​Thanks for your interest in this activity. As part of the “Build and Test a Model Solar House” activity, students engage in many of the NGSS science and engineering practices, including asking questions (Practice 1), conducting investigations (Practice 3), analyzing data (Practice 4), using mathematics (Practice 5), constructing explanations (Practice 6), arguing from evidence (Practice 7), and communicating information (Practice 8). The activity focuses on the following crosscutting concepts: Cause and Effect, Energy, and Systems. The activity is not currently aligned to specific PE’s.
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Engineering Energy EfficiencyThis resource is a part of the Concord Consortium's Engineering Energy Efficiency project.

Grade Level
Middle School, High School
Subject
Engineering, Physics
Focus Area
Probeware
Rating
5
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