Grade Range
9th-12th
Group Size
3
Total Time
5 hours 45 minutes
Area of Science
Environmental Engineering
Civil Engineering
Key Concepts
solar energy, heat exchange, sustainable architecture
Credits
TeachEngineering logo

Overview

Students investigate passive solar building design with a focus solely on heating. They learn how insulation, window placement, thermal mass, surface colors, and site orientation play important roles in passive solar heating. They use this information to design and build their own model houses, and test them for thermal gains and losses during a simulated day and night. Teams compare designs and make suggestions for improvements.

Engineering Connection

Passive solar heating techniques gain more attention when conventional energy costs and global climate change concerns increase. Engineers are at the center of designing solutions to address these issues and they place a lot of attention on passive solar heating as a means of reducing our dependence on non-renewable energy sources. Passive solar design is best incorporated into new buildings and structures; it is more challenging to add to existing buildings.

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • HS-ETS1-2. Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
  • HS-ETS1-3. Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions. Design a solution to a complex real-world problem, based on scientific knowledge, student-generated sources of evidence, prioritized criteria, and tradeoff considerations.

Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem, based on scientific knowledge, student-generated sources of evidence, prioritized criteria, and tradeoff considerations.
ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution. Criteria may need to be broken down into simpler ones that can be approached systematically, and decisions about the priority of certain criteria over others (trade-offs) may be needed.

ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions. When evaluating solutions it is important to take into account a range of constraints including cost, safety, reliability and aesthetics and to consider social, cultural and environmental impacts.
Influence of Science, Engineering, and Technology on Society and the Natural World. New technologies can have deep impacts on society and the environment, including some that were not anticipated. Analysis of costs and benefits is a critical aspect of decisions about technology.

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Grade Range
9th-12th
Group Size
3
Total Time
5 hours 45 minutes
Area of Science
Environmental Engineering
Civil Engineering
Key Concepts
solar energy, heat exchange, sustainable architecture
Credits
TeachEngineering logo
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