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As part of the CREATE Solar PV Institute faculty professional development workshops, Renewable Energy lesson plans and instructional materials are developed to provide educators, who are teaching renewable energy courses, access to a rich library of instructional materials for their classes.
Our Renewable Energy lessons are designed for community college, technical college, and high school use. Teachers are welcome to modify them for their specific circumstances.
Teaching materials include instructor guides, student handouts, answer keys, and additional resources for each of the lessons explored in the Solar Institutes. Documentation is also provided for each lesson referencing the US DOE Energy Literacy Standards (ELS) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
Most documents are provided in both Adobe PDF format to preserve original formatting, and in Microsoft Word format to allow easy editing and customization by teachers for their specific application.
Select a category to view lesson plans in a specific topic, or scroll down to browse all Renewable Energy lesson plans.
In What’s In An Energy Bill? (Part 1), students will analyze two imaginary, but typical, energy bills. One is a bill from the winter season and one is from the summer season. Students will become acquainted with and use features present on energy bills. Students will also consider some of their weekly and seasonally energy use patterns.
What’s In An Energy Bill? (Part 2) builds upon the lesson in Part 1. Students visit the EPA’s Power Profiler website to review the resources and air emissions consequences of their energy bill. Students also learn the resources and emissions consequences of their energy savings efforts.
Energy Conversions & Beyond introduces students to the BTU and Joule, and to useful energy conversions that can be done with them. Later, students use a typical energy bill to calculate the costs, resources, and air emissions for which they are responsible. In the end, students understand the real costs of using energy — and the real benefits of saving it.
Exploring A Job In The Energy Industry encourages students to explore a potential, future energy job. Using Career Maps, students research compensation, qualifications, job demands, and advancement opportunities for the job they selected.
By The Numbers introduces students to basic facts and dynamics of the American energy economy. Students learn how each primary source of energy is provided by nature, how each is employed in the economy, and whether each source is nonrenewable or renewable.
Students survey an electrical appliance at home in What’s The Cheapest Watt? Pooling class data, they then consider energy management decisions. In the end, they determine the cheapest Watt—the one that costs the least, preserves the most natural resources, and saves the most environmental pollution — is the Watt they never use.
In this lesson, students learn that It Pays to Save in Your Home. Students consider many common, potential energy saving situations in a home, research questions surrounding them, and report on their findings. Students learn which energy saving measures should always be applied first. They also learn that saving energy always comes before applying renewable energy technologies.
In Building A Passive Solar Home, students design and build a home to take advantage of its natural surroundings and manage its environmental disadvantages. They learn about the concept of a home energy load profile. Students learn how seasonal changes, architecture, and landscaping can be used in the design of a home with a low energy load profile.
Measuring Sunlight: The Pyranometer is a hands-on, interactive lesson. It introduces students to the pyranometer — a solar industry “tool of the trade” — and how it’s used. Students also learn about, and then assess, some of the variables that have an effect on the sunlight received by a solar panel.
Solar Site Analysis: The Solar Pathfinder teaches students how to use a Solar Pathfinder — a solar industry “tool of the trade” — to measure and evaluate the percentage of sunlight available for a specific site in a relevant setting.
Solar Location Analysis: The PVWatts Calculator is an excellent introduction to NREL’s PVWatts calculator – a standard, online “tool of the trade” in the solar industry. Students estimate the electricity production of a grid-connected solar PV system for several places across the globe.
With Solar PV: Watts From The Sun, students measure basic solar module performance characteristics (Amps, Volts, Watts) to determine how much electricity a classroom solar panel produces. Then, they use solar PV module production data to size a PV array to different electrical load requirements.
Solar PV Silicon teaches students about the properties of silicon and why it is unusually well suited for use in producing solar photovoltaic power.
What are the primary environmental factors that affect solar PV module performance? In Solar PV: Module Performance (Instructional Size Module), your students will use industry tools of the trade to make common solar PV measurements to determine what affects module performance and how performance is affected. This lesson is written to be used with small, instructional (classroom size) modules.
What are the primary environmental factors that affect solar PV module performance? In Solar PV: Module Performance (Residential Size Module), your students will use industry tools of the trade to make common solar PV measurements to determine what affects module performance and how performance is affected. This lesson is written to be used with large, residential, or commercial size modules.
Solar PV: Balance Of System & System Design teaches students how solar PV systems can be engineered to meet different situations and goals. Learn what equipment is needed to make various systems work and what each piece of Balance of System equipment does.
In Solar PV: Battery & Charge Control, students predict, measure, and explain electric potential (volts) and current (amps) in a variety of dynamic settings. They will gain an understanding of the function of the charge controller in governing current flow in a renewable energy battery storage system.
Watch this video to learn many of the steps involved in Installing a Solar Photovoltaic Array. If you’re a teacher, pay special attention. This is one of the activities you’ll carry out when you attend our next STEM Educator (in-person) Solar Institute. It will probably be the most engaging workshop activity you’ll ever perform!
Dairy Waste To Power is a strongly visual, multimedia lesson. Students learn how dairy waste can be turned into a valuable renewable resource. Students find that what is often a waste disposal problem can produce electricity and a variety of other valuable, environmentally friendly resources.
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CREATE expresses its gratitude to the Wisconsin Public Service SolarWise for Schools Program for sharing these Renewable Energy lesson plans with us.