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Energy Overview

Investigate how energy works and discover how small bursts of creativity can unlock huge potential for the future. The learning activities and digital resources contained within this online curriculum allow students to explore the concept of energy as they work together over a five-day period. Get started today and ignite the STEM spark.


If this is your first time visiting this course, please review the Getting Started Guide:

Get Started Link

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Day 1 - Energy and You

Overview:
 
Today students will begin to explore the wide world of energy resources. The focus for day one is for students to gain an introduction to the various forms of energy and the concept that one form of energy may be transformed into another. They will begin by discussing the nature of energy and relating their own personal experiences with different forms of energy. Students will also do an Engineering Challenge in which they will design and build a machine that will light a bulb after several energy transfers. A fun, thematic recess activity is suggested, followed by the STEM Career Connection and the Mind Snack. Day one wraps up with the daily STEM Camp Notebook reflection activity. The “Dive into Digital” project is also provided as an option for facilitators to include.

Learning Objectives:
  • To describe the various forms of energy
  • To explain how one form of energy can be transformed into another
  • To distinguish between kinetic and potential energy
 
Background:
 
Less than 100 years ago, many people did not have electricity in their homes. Today however, nearly every aspect of our lives depends on an uninterrupted supply of electricity. By far, most of our electricity comes from the burning of coal. Other fossil fuels—petroleum and natural gas—are used to help find and extract most of the other resources we use, as well as to provide for most of our transportation needs. 
 
All forms of energy can be categorized as either potential energy or kinetic energy. Potential energy is the energy an object has as a result of its position or structure. Kinetic energy is the energy of motion, whether on an atomic or an astronomical scale. To generate electricity, kinetic energy (such as the flowing water that causes a turbine to spin) is used to move a magnet across a coil of wire. The movement of the magnetic field causes a flow of electrons in the wire, generating electricity. 
 
The law of conservation of energy tells us that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. When one form of energy is transformed into another, some of the original energy is “lost” as waste heat, but the total amount of energy in the system remains constant. For example, when an electronic device is used, some of the electricity flowing through the conducting materials is converted into heat, and escapes the device.
 

 

Schedule:
 
Opening (30 minutes)
This time is allocated to set the stage for today’s activities, a review of your local summer program policies and procedures, and any other logistics like the distribution of STEM Camp Notebooks. 
 
Setting the Stage (15 minutes)
Ask students to think of how they use energy in their everyday lives. Have volunteers describe a form of energy they use. Then, lead a class discussion that uses what students know to define the concept of energy (the ability to do work, or to change or move things). Brainstorm ideas on a chalk or whiteboard and encourage students to add their suggestions.
 
Next, show the video segment A Look at Energy (1:11) as a brief review. Tell students that today we are investigating the nature of energy and the different energy resources that we depend on.
 
Cyber Investigation (30 minutes)
During this investigation, students will explore the different forms of energy. Detailed instructions are provided in the Energy Makes It Happen Teacher’s Guide.
 
First, provide students with the student worksheet Student Guide Energy Makes It Happen. Next, direct students through Energy Makes It Happen. Have students record the data explored on the Student’s Guide or in their STEM Camp Notebook.
 
Facilitator’s note:  Have students do the exploration on computers in pairs to encourage collaboration, if possible.
 
Activity: Energy All Around You (45 minutes)
Introduce students to the different forms of energy by having them complete the Hands-on Activity Energy in the Classroom. In this activity, students are asked to take a tour of their area and record all of the forms of energy they see.  This activity can be altered to be more like a scavenger hunt where students search out and identify at least three examples of each form of energy.  Detailed instructions are provided in the Energy in the Classroom Teacher’s Guide.
 
Facilitator’s note:  If possible, have students use cell phones and/or provided cameras to take pictures of the examples of energy that they find.  The pictures can be used at the end of the day to create a digital project.
 
Discuss with students their personal experiences with each of the different forms of energy. Next, help students distinguish between potential (stored) energy and kinetic (motion) energy by reading Getting To Know: Potential Energy. Have the students break into small groups and categorize their energy sources from the Energy in the Classroom activity as either potential or kinetic with reasons for each classification.  (For example, an electric pencil sharpener has potential mechanical energy because it is not moving unless it is being used.)
 
Break (15 minutes)
 
Cyber Investigation (15 minutes)
During this investigation, students will explore how energy can be converted from one form to another. Detailed instructions are provided in the Changing the Form of Energy Teacher Guide.
 
First, provide students with the student worksheet Student Guide for Changing the Form of Energy. Next, direct students through Changing the Form of Energy. Have students record the data explored on the Student’s Guide or in their STEM Camp Notebook.
 
Facilitator’s note:  Have students do the exploration on computers in pairs to encourage collaboration, if possible.
 
Activity: Potential Energy of Marbles (20 minutes)
Students will use what they have learned about potential energy to determine the relationship between the height of a marble ramp and the distance the marble will travel.  After introducing them to the concepts of the conservation of energy, have them perform Hands-on Activity: Potential Energy of Marbles.  Detailed instructions are provided in the Hands-on Activity: Potential Energy of Marbles Teacher Guide.
 
Activity: A Simple Circuit (60 minutes)
Students will use what they have learned about energy transformations and electricity to build a simple circuit that includes a light bulb. After introducing them to the concepts of conduction and conservation of energy, have them to perform Hands-On Activity: Electric Light.
 
Lunch (30 minutes)
 
Recess: Charged Balloon Multiple Choice (30 minutes)
Arrange students in groups of five. Give four of the students each an inflated balloon. The remaining student (the guesser) will face away from the other four students, while only one of the four students rubs their balloon against their hair or an item of clothing. When this is done, the four students with balloons form a line and hold their balloons in front of them. The guesser will then make a guess as to which balloon has the static charge. After guessing, they will then touch the identified balloon to determine if it holds a static charge. If the balloon is not charged, the guesser continues the process until the charged balloon is identified. Each student in the group takes a turn as the guesser, and the one who guesses correctly in the fewest number of tries wins.
 
STEMtastic Careers (30 minutes)
Have students read the passage Amri Hernandez-Pellerano: NASA Engineer, then show students the video segment Electrical Engineer (3:51), about careers in the electrical engineering industry.
 
Use these prompts to discuss careers with students:
  • What type of educational background would you need to become an electrical engineer?
  • How does the work that electrical engineers do affect your life?
  • What are some of the skills you would need to have to be a good electrical engineer?
  • What is an interesting aspect of the work that electrical engineers do?
 
Engineering Challenge: Long Way to Light a Light bulb (75 minutes)
In this challenge, students will work in teams to design and build a simple machine where a marble moves through a series of chain reactions to ultimately turn on a light bulb. Encourage students to use available materials creatively while budgeting their “Discovery Dollars” to purchase additional supplies to construct their device.  
 
Introduction:  Most homes use electricity to run the lights. That electricity is usually generated at a power plant through a series of energy conversions.  In this challenge, your team will work together to design and build simple machine that will convert energy from one form to another in order to light a light bulb.
  
  • Divide students into teams of 4.  Teams should decide on a name for their team. 
  • Distribute the Guidelines and Requirements to each team. 
  • Each team will be given a tool kit and will have a certain amount of “Discovery Dollars” with which to shop for supplies. 
  • Teams should plan on paper for the first 10 minutes what their machine will look like and how it will work.
  • Teams have the remainder of the time to create and test their machine.
 
Mind Snacks (15 minutes)
 
STEM Camp Notebook Reflection (10 minutes)
In their STEM Camp notebooks,, students should answer the following questions:
  • How many different forms of energy do you benefit from during a typical day?
  • What are the most common energy conversions you use during a typical day?
 
Wrap Up (5 minutes)
As a teaser for the next day, ask students to ponder the following question, providing an answer and explaining their reasoning.
 
How are fission and fusion different?
 
Provide students with today’s Newsletter: Energy and You for them to share with their parents.
 
Dive Into Digital Project (60 minutes)
Facilitators can decide whether to include this project as part of their daily curriculum, as an optional extension or decide not to use it at all.
 
 
 
 

 

Standards Connection:
 
Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects:
  • ELA Grade 6 Standard RI:1 Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • ELA Grade 6 Standard RI:7 Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.
ISTE.NETS.S:
  • ISTE.NETS.S 3 Research and Information Fluency
  • Next Generation Science Standards:
  • 4-PS3-2. Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents. 
  • 4-PS3-4. Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another. 
  • MS-PS3-2. Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system. 
  • MS-ETS1-1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
  • MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

 

Materials:
 
STEM Camp Notebook
 
Activity: Potential Energy of Marbles
For each group:
  • paper-towel tube
  • meter sticks, two
  • marbles, three of different sizes
  • ruler
  • masking tape
  • books with different thicknesses
Activity: Electric Light
For each group:
  • 2 D batteries 
  • 2 paper clips 
  • 5 ten to 14 inch pieces of insulated copper wire, stripped of insulation one to two inches on each end 
  • 3V flashlight bulb
  • small block of wood
  • 4 thumbtacks 
  • clothespin
  • small nail, safe for plaster or drywall
  • electrical tape
  • 2-3 small hammer (depending on class size)
Recess
  • Balloons
Engineering Challenge
Provide each team with a “Tool Box” of the following materials
  • marbles of assorted sizes
  • ruler
  • masking tape
  • duct tape
  • scissors*
  • utility knife*
  • modeling clay
  • rubber bands
  • assorted paper clips
  • assorted binder clips
  • string
  • push pins
  • pencils
  • wire
  • small light bulb
  • small light bulb base
  • Discovery Dollars
 
Set up a “store” with the following materials for teams to purchase with their Discovery Dollars.  Be sure to have enough of each for multiple teams.
  • boxes of various sizes
  • plastic bins of various sizes
  • plastic/paper cups of various sizes
  • wide craft sticks
  • balloons
  • candles
  • matches*
  • pipe cleaners
  • Slinky
  • funnels
  • straight pins
  • plastic CD cases
  • cardboard tubing
  • poster board
  • pipe insulation tubes
  • pool noodles
  • straws
  • mouse traps*
  • spatulas
  • aluminum foil
  • plastic wrap
  • thread spools
  • compressed air
  • springs
  • various magnets
  • Matchbox cars
  • assorted pulleys
  • assorted jingle bells
  • bicycle bell
  • 16oz bottles of water
  • 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • yeast
  • baking soda
  • white vinegar
*Adult supervision with these materials is recommended.


If you are ordering the materials kit from our vendor, below is a list of resources NOT included in the kit. 

STEM Camp Notebook
 
Activity: Potential Energy of Marbles

For each group:
  • paper-towel tube
  • meter sticks, two
  • masking tape
  • books with different thicknesses

Engineering Challenge
Provide each team with a “Tool Box” of the following materials
  • masking tape
  • duct tape
  • scissors*
  • pencils
  • Discovery Dollars
  • boxes of various sizes
  • plastic bins of various sizes
  • matches*
  • plastic CD cases
  • cardboard tubing
  • poster board
  • pipe insulation tubes
  • pool noodles
  • mouse traps*
  • spatulas
  • aluminum foil
  • plastic wrap
  • compressed air
  • bicycle bell
  • 16oz bottles of water
  • yeast
  • baking soda
  • white vinegar
 
*Adult supervision with these materials is recommended.

Day 2 - Energy from Atoms, Biomass, and Fossil Fuels

Overview:
 
Today students will explore the two most prominent forms of nonrenewable energy—fossil fuels and nuclear energy, as well as a promising form of renewable energy, biomass.  They will begin by learning about how fossil fuels formed over millions of years. Following that, they will investigate how the different types of fossil fuels are mined. During the course of the day students will also learn about how nuclear fission is used to generate electricity, and the ways that using biomass as a fuel can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear energy. A fun, thematic recess activity is suggested, followed by the STEM Career Connection, followed by the Mind Snack. Day two wraps up with the daily STEM Camp Notebook reflection activity. The “Dive into Digital” project is also provided as an option for facilitators to include.

Learning Objectives:
  • To explore how fossil fuels formed from heat and pressure
  • To explain how the different types of fossil fuels are mined and used
  • To investigate how nuclear fission is used to generate electricity
  • To explain how biomass contains energy that can be used to generate electricity
Background:
 
Almost all forms of energy require some sort of fuel.  A fuel is anything that is used for energy.  When we hear the word fuel, we usually think of gasoline, oil, wood, and other substances that burn or combust. 
 
Most of the energy we use comes from the burning of coal. Coal forms when the remains of plants are partially decomposed and buried under sediments. As more and more sediments pile up, pressure and temperature increases, driving off methane and carbon dioxide. This is part of a process known as carbonization, which eventually leads to the formation of coal. In contrast, oil and natural gas deposits form when microorganisms and plants die in shallow lakes and seas and settle to the bottom. This decomposing organic matter is then buried by sediments and subjected to increased temperature and pressure, eventually forming oil and natural gas. 
 
The technology for nuclear energy is largely the result of the development of nuclear bombs that began during World War II. The first bombs that were created were fission bombs—they released vast amounts of energy by causing a chain reaction in which the nuclei of heavy atoms were split in a process known as fission. Later, even more powerful bombs were made by causing nuclei of heavy atoms to combine in a process known as fusion. A nuclear power plant uses the same concepts that lead to fission reactions, but at a much slower, controlled rate. 
 
Wood has been burned as a biofuel for centuries.  Wood is an “energy storage device” because trees use and store energy from the sun.  Ancient plants and animals store the same type of energy and become fossil fuels.  Plant material that is often considered waste can also provide energy when broken down to create steam, or liquid fuel.  Ethanol is a form of liquid biomass that is added to gasoline as a way to reduce the amount of fossil fuels used in cars.

 

Schedule:
 
Opening (30 minutes)
This time is allocated to set the stage for today’s activities, review your local summer program policies and procedures, and handle other logistics like distribution of STEM Camp Notebooks. 
 
Setting the Stage: Why Are Fossil Fuels Important? (15 minutes)
Most students, when asked, will tell you that fossil fuels are something that we use in our cars and to heat our homes.  
Break students into groups of four and provide them with the Can You Live Without It checklist.
Do not tell them anything about the list, just ask them to go through it and mark accordingly.
Give them 5-10 minutes to go through the list, then lead them in a discussion regarding what percentage of items were checked off.
Next, tell students that everything on this list (and more) are made with fossil fuels.  Lead them in a discussion regarding how different life would be without fossil fuels.
 
 
Cyber Investigation: What Are Fossil Fuels (40 minutes)
More than any other energy resource, we rely on a steady supply of fossil fuels to empower our daily lives.
 
Students will explore more about how we use fossil fuels every day with the activity Everyday Fossil Fuels.  Detailed instructions are provided in the Everyday Fossil Fuels Teacher’s Guide.
 
First, provide students with the student worksheet Everyday Fossil Fuels Student Guide.  Next, direct students through the Exploration Everyday Fossil Fuels. Have students record the data explored on the Student’s Guide or in their STEM Camp Notebook.
 
Next, students will explore the conditions necessary to form different types of fossil fuels with the activity An Ancient Recipe.  Detailed instructions are provided in the An Ancient Recipe Teacher’s Guide.
 
First, provide students with the student worksheet An Ancient Recipe Student Guide.  Next, direct students through the Exploration An Ancient Recipe.  Have students record the date explored on the Student’s Guide or in their Stem Camp Notebook.
 
Facilitator’s note:  Have students do the exploration on computers in pairs to encourage collaboration, if possible.
 
Break (15 minutes)
 
Activity: Drilling for Oil (60 minutes)
 
First, show the students the video segment What are Fossil Fuels (1:51)
 
Next, have students do the activity, Drilling for Oil. In this activity, students will use clay of various colors and drinking straws to model how oil reservoirs are explored. Detailed instructions are provided in Hands-On Activity: Drilling for Oil.
 
Activity: What Is Nuclear Energy? (20 minutes)
Have students draw three columns in their STEM Camp Notebooks. The columns should be labeled K, W, and L. Ask students to write down things they know about nuclear energy in the K column, and things they would like to know in the W column. Instruct students to fill in the L column with things they learn about nuclear energy as they do the activity. Next, show the following video segment:
Solicit responses from students about what they wrote in the K and W columns of their charts. 
 
Cyber Investigation: Atomic Split (20 minutes)
 
In this investigation, students will explore the process of nuclear fission.  Detailed instructions are provided in the Atomic Split Teacher’s Guide.
 
First, provide students with the student worksheet Atomic Split Student Guide.  Next, direct students through the Exploration Atomic Split. Have students record the data explored on the Student’s Guide or in their STEM Camp Notebook.
 
Activity: Chain Reaction (40 minutes)
Nuclear power comes from a series of fission chain reactions.  Students will perform an activity to simulate these chain reactions.  
First, divide the students into two groups.  One group will do the Nuclear Chain Reaction activity.  The second group will do the Marble Chain Reaction activity.  After about 20 minutes, have the groups switch activities.
 
Lunch (30 minutes)
 
Recess: Fission Game (30 minutes)
  1. Each student gets two balloons (neutrons) to hold and they stand together in a close-packed group.
  2. The reaction starts with a balloon (source neutron) being thrown into the group by a volunteer.
  3. When hit with a balloon that is in the air, the student will “fission” by throwing their two balloons into the air.
  4. Add “control rods” (a person who grabs balloons out of air making them unavailable to cause fission) one at a time. Discuss how adding control rods affect the chain reaction: more control rods = slower reaction. Keep increasing the number of rods until reaction proceeds very slowly or not at all.
  5. Discuss chain reaction, critical, sub/supercritical, and reactor control.
  6. If there is enough time, discuss how you use fission to make electricity, then discuss different electricity generation types.
 
Setting the Stage: Energy from Garbage (30 minutes)
Plant materials can be used to create gasses and steam as an alternative energy fuel.  Corn can be turned into ethanol which is and energy source that is added to gasoline.  First, have students view the video segment Energy From Olive Pits (3:37).  Then have them view the segment Oil From Algae (5:26) and read the passage Biomass Fuels.  Have students work in pairs to make lists of the advantages and disadvantages of using biofuels.
 
Next, have students set up the activity Energy from Garbage.  They will have to observe the results of this activity on the morning of Day 5.
 
Cyber Activity: Future Power (30 minutes)
Students learn about the benefits of using biomass as an alternative to fossil fuels as they try to calculate the best combination of the two to create power.  Detailed instructions can be found in the Future Power Teacher’s Guide.
 
First, provide students with the Briefing Document and Student Guide to the Future Power Activity.  Next, direct them through the activity. Have students record the data explored on the Student’s Guide or in their STEM Camp Notebook.
 
Facilitator’s note:  Have students do the exploration on computers in pairs to encourage collaboration, if possible.
 
STEMtastic Careers (30 minutes)
Visit this website that review the job of Petroleum Engineer  and play the video that describes the job.  Next visit the Navy in The Classroom website to explore a career as a Nuclear Engineer.
 
Use these prompts to discuss careers with students:
  • What type of educational background would you need to become a petroleum engineer?
  • What type of educational background would you need to become an nuclear engineer?
  • What are some of the skills you would need in order to be a good petroleum or nuclear engineer?
  • What sorts of tools does each type of engineer use in their job?
  • What are some interesting aspects of the work that these types of engineers do?
 
Mind Snacks (15 minutes)
During your snack time, visit the Green Mountain Energy website to learn more about biomass energy.
 
STEM Camp Notebook Reflection (10 minutes)
In their journals, students should answer the following questions:
  • Describe two things that you learned about either fossil fuels or nuclear energy that you did not know before today.
  • Do you believe it is worth the effort of collecting biomass from everyday garbage in order to use it for fuel?
 
Wrap Up (5 minutes)
As a teaser for the next day, ask students the following True/False questions. When they have answered, ask them to explain their reasoning.
  1. The electricity produced by wind turbines is only available while the wind is blowing.
  2. Humans have used wind energy for more than a thousand years.
 
Provide students with today’s Newsletter, Energy from Atoms, Biomass and Fossil Fuels for them to share with their parents.
 
Dive Into Digital Project (60 minutes)
Facilitators can decide whether to include this project as part of their daily curriculum, as an optional extension or decide not to use it at all.

 

Standards Connection:
 
Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects:
  • ELA Grade 6 Standard RI:1 Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • ELA Grade 6 Standard RI:7 Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.
ISTE.NETS.S:
  • ISTE.NETS.S 3 Research and Information Fluency
Next Generation Science Standards:
  • 4-PS3-2. Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents. 
  • 4-PS3-3. Ask questions and predict outcomes about the changes in energy that occur when objects collide. 
  • 4-ESS3-1. Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and their uses affect the environment. 
  • MS-PS1-3. Gather and make sense of information to describe that synthetic materials come from natural resources and impact society. 
  • MS-ESS3-3. Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment. 

 

Materials:
STEM Camp Notebook
Activity: Drilling for Oil
For each group
  • ruler
  • small box
  • 4 different colors of modeling clay
  • box of clear, plastic drinking straws
  • cooking oil for lubricant
  • paper towels
 
Activity: Nuclear Chain Reaction
For each group
  • ruler
  • dominos
  • flat table that won’t shake or floor space
 
Activity: Marble Chain Reaction
For each group
  • 24 marbles
  • Hula hoop
  • Double stick tape

Activity: Energy from Garbage
For each group
  • 60 dried beans or peas that have been soaked in water overnight
  • six zipper locked sandwich sized bags
  • sharpie marker for marking the bags
  • dark, shady and sunny places for storing the bags for a few days


If you are ordering the materials kit from our vendor, below is a list of resources NOT included in the kit.


STEM Camp Notebook
 
Activity: Drilling for Oil
For each group
  • small box
  • cooking oil for lubricant
  • paper towels

Activity: Nuclear Chain Reaction
For each group
  • flat table that won’t shake or floor space

Activity: Marble Chain Reaction
For each group
  • Hula hoop

Activity: Energy from Garbage
For each group
  • six zipper locked sandwich sized bags
  • sharpie marker for marking the bags
  • dark, shady and sunny places for storing the bags for a few days

Day 3 - Wind and Solar Energy

Overview:

Today, students will spend the bulk of their time on understanding two options for alternatives to fossil fuels, wind, and solar energy. They will discover that wind energy is a clean energy source, in that it does not produce any harmful emissions like fossil fuels do. They will also discover that, though wind energy has many advantages, it also has limited availability.  Students will also learn about the factors that affect the availability of solar energy and the two main types of solar energy we use—passive solar energy and active solar energy. A fun, thematic recess activity is suggested, followed by the STEM Career Connection. Students then will work on an Engineering Challenge, followed by the Mind Snack. Day three wraps up with the daily STEM Camp Notebook reflection activity. The “Dive into Digital” project is also provided as an option for facilitators to include.

Learning Objectives:
  • To demonstrate how wind turbines are used to generate electricity
  • To relate the advantages and disadvantages of wind energy
  • To differentiate between active and passive solar energy
  • To relate the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy

Background:

Wind Energy: As the sun heats Earth’s surface, it does so in an uneven way. Sunlight strikes the equatorial latitudes more directly than it does the polar latitudes, resulting in a higher concentration of energy per unit area. It also is absorbed and reflected at different rates, depending on the nature of the surface it strikes. This uneven heating results in areas of different pressure in the atmosphere, which causes wind. Humans have relied on wind energy for thousands of years—to help sail ships and grind grain, among other purposes. Modern wind turbines are used to convert the kinetic energy of the atmosphere into electrical energy, which can be transmitted via power lines or stored in batteries.

Solar Energy: Solar energy consists of electromagnetic radiation emitted by the sun. Much of this energy is in the infrared, ultraviolet, and visible wavelengths. Although Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere block a large part of the sun’s radiation, enough solar energy strikes the US each day to supply all of our energy needs for approximately one and a half years!

Solar energy is responsible for the existence of almost all life on Earth. As such, it is also the source of the energy stored in fossil fuels. Solar energy also gives rise to wind energy and, together with gravity, produces hydroelectric energy. Solar energy can be harnessed by humans in two main ways—passive solar energy collection and active solar energy collection. Passive solar energy collection involves using structures, positions, and material properties to take advantage of the sun’s energy. Active solar energy collection generally involves using photovoltaic cells to convert solar radiation directly into an electric current.


Schedule
Opening (30 minutes)
This time is allocated to set the stage for today’s activities, review your local summer program policies and procedures, and handle other logistics like distribution of STEM Camp Notebooks.

Setting the Stage: The Power of Wind (20 minutes)
Using a fan and a toy pinwheel, demonstrate for students how wind can make the blades of the pinwheel turn.  Explain to the students that the turning blades of the pinwheel, if connected to a generator, could generate electricity. Then show the video segment Wind Power.


After viewing the video, have students draw pictures that demonstrate good locations for wind turbines.  

Cyber Investigation: 3M Wind Energy Virtual Lab (25 minutes)
In this activity, students will design, build, and test a wind turbine in a virtual environment. Students will be challenged to create a turbine that will supply 400 homes with electricity for one year.

Activity: Siemens Science Day: BLOWIN' IN THE WIND (60 minutes)
In this activity, students will create their own windmills and test them against the models made by their classmates.

Facilitator’s Note: An alternative activity is Hands-On Activity: Wind Energy. Teachers Guide and Student Guide

Break (15 minutes)

Setting the Stage: The Power of the Sun (30 minutes)
Nearly all forms of energy (excluding nuclear and geothermal) are ultimately derived from the sun. To introduce the concept of solar energy, first show students the video segments Light Has Energy (1:46) and Solar Power (6:36). Then ask students how food is related to solar energy (plants get their energy from the sun, humans eat the plants). Next, have students read the passages Solar and Wind Energy and Getting to Know: Solar and Wind Energy.

Lunch (30 minutes)

Recess: Rainbow Tag (30 minutes)
Have students form a line along one side of the field. Choose one student to be “it” and have them stand in the middle of the field. The person who is “it” will call out a color, and any student who is wearing a shirt of that color must run across the field and try to avoid being tagged. The winner is the last student not to be tagged. Repeat this with other campers designated as “it.”  

Activity: The Abundance of Solar Energy (20 minutes)
Like wind energy, the availability of solar energy is variable. It depends on where you are, climate, and the time of year, among other things. Ask students to speculate on what factors affect the abundance of solar energy. Then show the video segments Solar Power without the Sun (3:36) and Measuring Solar Energy (4:16) and allow students to revise their answers.

STEMtastic Careers (15 minutes)
Direct student to the Science Buddies website and have them read about wind energy engineers. Then show the video segment Cool Jobs in Science: Heather Dohan (1:05) from the 3M Science of Everyday Life: Cool Jobs in Science Page.

Use these prompts to discuss careers with students:

  • What are some similarities and differences between the work that wind energy engineers do and the work that other types of engineers do?
  • What types of skills must a wind engineer have?
  • How does the work that wind engineers do impact society and the environment?


Engineering Challenge: Siemens Science Day Lab: YOU'RE GETTING WARMER... (60 minutes)
In this activity, students investigate how different materials absorb solar energy at different rates using a model house. Before they begin, first introduce them to the concepts of absorption and transmission of solar energy by having them read the passage Getting to Know: Transmission and Absorption.

Mind Snacks (15 minutes)
Here are a few fun activities for your campers to explore during snack time. Students can explore and complete this in a large group or in small groups, if multiple computers are available. Choose the Wonderville game called Solar Energy Defenders or the Power Up Game on wind energy from NASA.

STEM Camp Notebook Reflection (10 minutes)
In their journals, students should answer the following questions:

  • Would the area in which you live be a good place for a wind farm?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of using wind energy?
  • What are some ways you can take advantage of passive solar energy in your home or school?
  • What are some ways you can take advantage of active solar energy in your home or school?

Wrap Up (5 minutes)
As a teaser for the next day, ask students to answer the following questions.
1.    What conditions are necessary for generating hydroelectric energy?
2.    What conditions are necessary for generating geothermal energy?

Provide students with today’s Newsletter: Wind and Solar Energy for them to share with their parents:

Dive Into Digital Project (60 minutes)
Facilitators can decide whether to include this project as part of their daily curriculum, as an optional extension, or decide not to use it at all.

Standards Connection:

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects:
 

  • ELA Grade 6 Standard RI:1 Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • ELA Grade 6 Standard RI:7 Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.

ISTE.NETS.S:

  • ISTE.NETS.S 3 Research and Information Fluency


Next Generation Science Standards:

  • 4-ESS3-1. Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and their uses affect the environment.
  • MS-ETS1-1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
  • MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • HS-PS1-8. Develop models to illustrate the changes in the composition of the nucleus of the atom and the energy released during the processes of fission, fusion, and radioactive decay.

MATERIALS

STEM Camp Notebook

Activity: Setting the Stage

  • fan
  • extension cord
  • pinwheel toy


Activity: Blowin in the Wind
Materials Needed for Each Team of 2-4 Students

  • aluminum pie tins
  • corrugated cardboard
  • 2 pencils with erasers
  • 2 straight pins
  • coffee stirrer
  • tape
  • glue
  • toothpicks


Testing Wind Turbines
Materials Needed Per Class

  • stop watch
  • pencil
  • one toothpick
  • foam block (approximately 15 cm x 15 cm x 5 cm)
  • electric fan


Activity: You Are Getting Warmer
Materials Needed for Each Team of 2-4 students:

  • shoebox with no lid
  • thermometer
  • aluminum foil
  • pieces of cloth (white, black, gray)
  • scissors
  • tape or thumbtacks
  • heat lamp (if performing the activity outside is not an option)


If you are ordering the materials kit from our vendor, below is a list of resources NOT included in the kit.

 
STEM Camp Notebook
 
Activity: Blowin’ in the Wind
 
For Each Team of 2-4 Students
 
  • corrugated cardboard
  • 2 pencils with erasers
  • tape
  • glue

Materials Needed Per Class for Testing Wind Turbines
  • electric fan
 
Activity: You Are Getting Warmer
 
For Each Team of 2-4 students:
 
  • shoebox with no lid
  • aluminum foil
  • scissors
  • tape or thumbtacks
  • light bulb
  • heat lamp (if performing the activity outside is not an option)

Day 4 - Hydroelectric and Geothermal Energy

Overview:
 
Today, students will continue their week long exploration of energy resources. Today’s activities include investigating hydroelectric energy, geothermal energy, and some cutting edge energy resource technologies. They will begin by exploring hydroelectric and geothermal energy sources. Following the STEM Career Connection and lunch, a fun, thematic recess activity is suggested. Students will then work on an Engineering Challenge that will utilize information learned over the course of the week. After the Mind Snack, Day Four wraps up with the daily STEM Camp Notebook reflection activity. The “Dive into Digital” project is also provided as an option for facilitators to include.

 

Learning Objectives:
  • To explore the advantages and disadvantages of hydroelectric energy
  • To investigate the advantages and disadvantages of geothermal energy

 

Background:
 
Like that of the wind, the kinetic energy of moving water has been used by humans for thousands of years. Hydroelectric energy depends on the water cycle, which is driven by Earth’s gravity and solar radiation. Most hydroelectric energy is generated by dams that are built across rivers. The water that is stored upstream of a dam holds a large reserve of potential energy. This energy is converted into kinetic energy as the water is channeled through turbines and then released downstream.
 
In most of Earth’s surface layers, groundwater flows slowly through pore spaces. In areas where magma and hot rock are located relatively close to the surface, the groundwater is heated to very high temperatures. In such places, geothermal power plants can be built to convert the kinetic energy of hot water and steam into electrical energy with turbines. In some cases, not enough groundwater is present and water is pumped down into the rock, where it is heated and rises up again where it can be used to spin the turbines.
 

 

Schedule:

Opening (30 minutes)
This time is allocated to set the stage for today’s activities, review your local summer program policies and procedures, and handle other logistics like distribution of STEM Camp Notebooks. 
 
Setting the Stage: Hydroelectric Energy (15 minutes)
Demonstrate that water has the power to move things by holding a toy pinwheel over a sink or bucket and slowly pouring water on the blades to make them turn. Explain to students that this is a simplified version of what happens in many places where the power of moving water is harnessed to run turbines and generate electricity.  Introduce students to hydroelectric energy technology by showing them the video segments Glacial Water: A Form of Potential Energy (1:03) and Hydroelectric (4:17). Invite students to share any experiences they may have had that relate to the generation of hydroelectric energy. Ask them if they can name any other examples of hydroelectric power plants.
 
Cyber Investigation (30 minutes)
During this investigation, students will explore how water is used to create electricity.  Detailed instructions are provided in the Water Power Teacher’s Guide.
 
First, review with students that electricity is sometimes measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh).  Provide students with the Student Guide to Water Power. Then, direct them through the activity Water Power. Have students record the data explored on the Student’s Guide or in their STEM Camp Notebook.
 
Facilitator’s note:  Have students do the exploration on computers in pairs to encourage collaboration, if possible.
 
Activity: Waterwheel (40 minutes)
Introduce students to the concept of hydroelectric power by having them complete the Hands-on Activity Waterwheel.  
 
Break (15 minutes)
 
Setting The Stage: Geothermal Energy (30 minutes)
Like wind and solar energy, the amount of geothermal energy available depends on where you are. Ask students what they think the source of geothermal energy is. Then, show the video segment Installing the Geothermal Heating and Cooling System (2:09) and allow them to revise their answers. Lastly, demonstrate how steam harnessed from the heat of the earth can generate electricity by holding a toy pinwheel over the spout of an electric kettle as the water boils.
 
Next, introduce students to the basics of geothermal energy technology by having them read one or more of the following reading passages.
 
 
Activity: Energy Trapped in the Earth (40 minutes)
Have students explore the concept of geothermal energy by having them look at how earth materials like rocks hold on to heat.  Complete details can be found in the Hands On Activity, Energy Trapped in the Earth.
 
STEMtastic Careers (30 minutes)
During today’s STEMtastic Careers, have students explore the careers of a geologist and a hydrologist on the Science Buddies website.
 
Lunch (30 minutes)
 
Recess: Hula Hoop Relay (30 minutes)
Arrange students in groups of 5 or more and provide each group with a hula hoop. Each group should form a circle, holding hands. The hula hoop should be placed between two of the students in the circle so that their hands are clasped within the hoop. Explain to students that the object of the race is to pass the hula hope one complete circuit around the circle without letting go of each other’s hands. The first team to complete the circuit wins. If the circle breaks, the team must start over from the beginning.
 
Engineering Challenge Got Hot Water? Part 1 (45 minutes)
In this challenge, students will work in teams, using information learned over the course of the week, to design and build a solar hot water system. Encourage students to use available materials creatively while budgeting their “Discovery Dollars” to purchase additional supplies to construct their device.  
 
Introduction:  Most homes use electricity or natural gas to provide a continuous supply of hot water. However, both methods of heating water are much less efficient than using solar energy is. In this challenge, your team will work together to design and build a solar hot water system.
  
  1. Divide students into teams of 4.  Teams should decide on a name for their team. 
  2. Explain to students that the first phase of the challenge is the design of the solar hot water system and a method for testing it.
  3. Distribute the Guidelines and Requirements to each team
  4. Each team will be given a tool kit and will have a certain amount of “Discovery Dollars” with which to shop for supplies. 
  5. Teams should plan on paper what their system will look like and how it will work.
  6. Teams have the remainder of the time to create a design proposal and submit it.
 
Mind Snacks (15 minutes)
During snack time, challenge students to answer these brain teaser riddles from the Energy Kids website
 
Teams will use their “Discovery Dollars” to purchase materials needed to build their solar hot water system and then build and perform a trial run of the system.
 
STEM Camp Notebook Reflection (30 minutes)
In their journals, students should answer the following questions:
  • How could geothermal energy help power your home or school?
  • What are some characteristics of an area that are necessary to harness hydroelectric power?
 
Wrap Up (5 minutes)
 
As a teaser for the next day, ask students to answer the following questions:
  • What are some examples of a renewable energy source?
  • What are some examples of a non-renewable energy source?
 
Provide students with today’s Newsletter: Hydroelectric and Geothermal Energies for them to share with their parents.
 
Dive Into Digital Project (60 minutes)
Facilitators can decide whether to include this project as part of their daily curriculum, as an optional extension, or decide not to use it at all.
 

 

Standards Connection:
 
Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects:
  • ELA Grade 6 Standard RI:1 Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • ELA Grade 6 Standard RI:7 Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.
ISTE.NETS.S:
  • ISTE.NETS.S 3 Research and Information Fluency
Next Generation Science Standards:
  • 4-PS3-4. Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.
  • 4-ESS3-1. Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and their uses affect the environment. 
  • MS-PS3-3. Apply scientific principles to design, construct, and test a device that either minimizes or maximizes thermal energy transfer.
  • MS-ETS1-1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions. 
  • MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem. 
  • MS-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success. 
 

 

Materials:
 
STEM Camp Notebook
 
Setting the Stage: Hydroelectric Energy
  • toy pinwheel
 
Activity: Waterwheel
For each group of 4
  • stiff cardboard or foam core, about 15” by 15”
  • push pins or strong glue (hot glue preferred)
  • pencil
  • protractor, 6” in diameter
  • wood skewer, dowel or straw
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • large basin, bucket or sink
  • pitcher of water
 
Activity: Energy Trapped in the Earth
For each group of 4
  • access to a hot plate with a pot of boiling water
  • rock approximately the size of a golf ball
  • tongs
  • large Styrofoam cup with lid
  • second Styrofoam cup the same size without lid
  • thermometer
 
Activity: Engineering Challenge
For each group of 4
  • Discovery Dollars
  • cardboard
  • Styrofoam boards
  • 2-liter bottles
  • aluminum foil
  • 1-gallon Ziploc bags
  • construction paper, various colors
  • glue
  • paint, various colors
Tool kit for each group
  • duct tape
  • thermometer
  • stop watch
  • graph paper
  • scissors
  • paint brushes
  • permanent markers


If you are ordering the materials kit from our vendor, below is a list of resources NOT included in the kit.

 
STEM Camp Notebook
 
Activity: Waterwheel
 
For each group of 4
 
  • stiff cardboard or foam core, about 15” by 15”
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • large basin, bucket or sink
  • pitcher of water
 
Activity: Energy Trapped in the Earth

For each group of 4
 
  • access to a hot plate with a pot of boiling water
  • tongs
 
Activity: Engineering Challenge
 
For each group of 4
 
  • Discovery Dollars
  • cardboard
  • Styrofoam boards
  • 2-liter bottles
  • aluminum foil
  • 1-gallon Ziplock bags
  • construction paper, various colors
  • glue
  • paint, various colors
 
Tool kit for each group
 
  • duct tape
  • graph paper
  • scissors
  • paint brushes
  • permanent markers

Day 5 - Your Effect on Energy Sources

Overview:
 
Today, students will conclude their week long exploration of energy resources! Today’s activities include a look at how our use of resources for energy affects the environment.  Students will focus on the challenges posed by our current use of nonrenewable energy resources, as well as some of the more promising technological solutions being developed by scientists and engineers. Following the STEM Career Connection and lunch, a fun, thematic recess activity is suggested. Students then conduct a virtual lab that has them investigating their carbon footprints. After the Mind Snack, students perform their last daily STEM Camp Notebook reflection activity. The “Dive into Digital” project is also provided as an option for facilitators to include. Day five wraps up with a STEM Showcase as a culminating event to celebrate student work.

Learning Objectives:
  • To comprehend how the use of some resources, such as fossil fuels, has an effect on the environment
  • To explain what is meant by carbon footprint
  • To explore the consequences of the current balance of renewable and nonrenewable energy resources used
  • To investigate promising future renewable energy technologies

Background:

Although estimates vary, at some point our ability to use nonrenewable resources, such as fossil fuels, will come to an end. This is because, in the long term, nonrenewable resources are not sustainable—they will eventually run out. In the not-too-distant future, we will need to make the transition to renewable resources. In the meantime, we will need to develop strategies for using a combination of nonrenewable and renewable resources if we are to avoid a potentially catastrophic energy crisis.
 
In addition, the use of some resources, such as fossil fuels and nuclear energy, has long lasting impact on the earth.  The processes used to remove the fossil fuels from their locations in the earth can cause environmental issues and care must be taken to avoid them.  The burning of fossil fuels cause gasses and pollution that affect our atmosphere.  Nuclear energy burns clean and does not harm the environment, but the wastes produced are highly radioactive and have to be handled and disposed of carefully.
 
Today, many scientists and engineers are working on forms of alternative energy.  For some, the reason for their work is driven by the impending lack of resources.  For others, it is the wish for cleaner, safer fuel. Some are even motivated by reducing our dependence on other nations for our source of fuel.  While we are not ready to fully be free of our need for fossil fuels and nuclear energy, we are seeing successes with the use of alternatives such as solar, wind, and electrical energies.  

 

Schedule:
 
Opening (30 minutes)
This time is allocated to set the stage for today’s activities, review your local summer program policies and procedures, and handle other logistics like distribution of STEM Camp Notebooks. 
 
Setting the Stage: The Issues With Fossil Fuels (30 minutes)
We have already looked at fossil fuels, how they are formed and where they come from.  Today, we will take a look at why we may wish to use less fossil fuel to power our homes, cars, boats, trains, planes, etc.  First, have students create a list of what they think are the problems with using fossil fuels.  Next, students should read the Getting To Know Reading Passage: Issues of Fossil Fuels.  After reading, ask students to add to their lists and to correct any misconceptions that they may have had before reading the article. 
 
Have students add any additional issues of using fossil fuels to their lists.
 
Cyber Investigation: Global Warming (40 minutes)
 
During this first investigation, students will compare how carbon dioxide emission levels and the amount of driving that you do can affect Global Warming. Detailed instructions are provided in the Rev Your Engines Teacher’s Guide.
 
First, provide students with the student worksheet Student Guide Rev Your Engines. Next, direct students through Rev Your Engines. Have students record the data explored on the Student’s Guide or in their STEM Camp Notebook.
 
During the second investigation, students will explore some solutions to the problem of pollution from cities around the country.  Detailed instructions are provided in the Pollution Solutions Teacher’s Guide.
 
Provide students with the student worksheet Student Guide Pollution Solutions and direct students through the Pollution Solutions activity.
 
Facilitator’s note:  Have students do the exploration on computers in pairs to encourage collaboration, if possible
 
Break (15 minutes)
 
Activity: The Greenhouse Effect (30 minutes)
Demonstrate how trapped gasses heat up the earth by completing the Hands-on Activity, The Greenhouse Effect.  In this activity, students investigate how trapping air under a jar affects the temperature of the air.  Detailed instructions are provided in the Greenhouse Effect Teacher’s Guide.
 
Activity: The Future of Energy (30 minutes)
By now, students should be familiar with both renewable and nonrenewable energy resources, and they should be developing an understanding of why it is important to decrease our dependence on nonrenewable energy resources and increase our use of renewable energy resources. Pose this question to the class: Given that we must continue to rely on nonrenewable energy resources for the foreseeable future, what should we do to minimize their harmful effects? Before the discussion begins, have them choose one or more of the following resources to help inform their answers.
 
Once students have had a chance to view some different resources, instruct them to complete the Future of Energy Handout, in which they identify the costs of nonrenewable energy, and the potential solutions that would minimize their harmful effects for the future. 
 
Lunch (30 minutes)
 
Recess: Water Jug Race (30 minutes)
You will need two or more identical 1-gallon or larger glass jugs, and a ready supply of water. Plastic jugs will not work, as their flexibility tends to affect the outcome of the race. Fill all of the jugs with the same amount of water. Starting at the same time, students will race to be the first to empty their jug of water. 
 
Encourage students to try a variety of techniques. You may notice that simply holding the jug upside down is not the best technique. This is because water is denser than air and, as it exits the bottle, it is impeded by the less-dense air that is entering the bottle in its place. In most cases, students who create a vortex by swirling the water in the jug will win the race. This is because the vortex creates a larger space for the air to enter the bottle. If time allows, have students perform multiple trials of the race and discuss which techniques work best.
 
STEMtastic Careers (30 minutes)
During today’s STEMtastic Careers, careers in renewable energy are the focus. Have students read about each of the careers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory website. Then lead them in a discussion about the opportunities and challenges of each area of specialization.
 
Virtual Lab: How Big Is Your Footprint? (45 minutes)
In this virtual lab students will explore options for alternative energy.  Detailed instructions are in the How Big Is Your Footprint Teacher Guide.
 
Provide students with the Student Guide to How Big Is Your Footprint Virtual Lab Level 1, and direct the students through the first level of the activity.  Then provide them with the Student Guide for Level 2 to be used as they work through the second level.
 
Facilitator’s note:  Have students do the exploration on computers in pairs to encourage collaboration, if possible
 
Mind Snacks (15 minutes)
During snack time, introduce students to the From the Ground up Plant Nutrient Exploration. Have students complete the exploration to learn more about the necessary ingredients plants need to sustain life.
 
STEMtastic Friday Celebration Preparation (30 minutes)
Set up and collect artifacts for the STEM Showcase. 
 
You can have students showcase some or all of the following artifacts from the week:
Day 1 - simple circuit
Day 2 - model oil reservoir
Day 3 - windmill
Day 4 – water wheel
Dive Into Digital Project 
 
STEM Camp Notebook Reflection (30 minutes)
In their journals, students should answer the following questions:
  • How will you use what you have learned about energy resources to make a difference in your home? School? Community?
  • What are your hopes for the future of renewable energy resources?
 
STEMtastic Friday Celebration with Parents (60 minutes)
 
Provide students with today's newsletter.
 

 

Standards Connection:
 
Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects:
  • ELA Grade 6 Standard RI:1 Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • ELA Grade 6 Standard RI:7 Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.
ISTE.NETS.S:
  • ISTE.NETS.S 3 Research and Information Fluency
Next Generation Science Standards:
  • 4-ESS3-1. Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and their uses affect the environment. 
  • MS-ESS3-3. Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment. 
  • MS-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success. 

Materials:
 

STEM Camp Notebook

Activity: The Greenhouse Effect
For each team
  • Large Mason jar
  • Thermometer that fits inside jar
  • Outside sun or heat lamp or regular lamp with incandescent bulb

If you are ordering the materials kit from our vendor, below is a list of resources NOT included in the kit.

 
STEM Camp Notebook
 
Activity: The Greenhouse Effect

For each team
  • Outside sun or heat lamp or regular lamp with incandescent bulb

Introduction

Welcome to Discovery Education’s STEM Camp – After School with a focus on Energy! During this course, students will engage in a variety of opportunities where they explore many of the fundamental concepts dealing with energy - what it is, how we use and work with energy, the impact of energy on the environment, and the future of energy production and consumption on our planet. More specifically, these concepts include looking at different forms of energy, energy sources and transformations, nonrenewable and renewable sources of energy, energy storage, global warming, and the close link between water and energy.
 
Learning opportunities for students will come through hands-on activities, reading passages, video segments, interactive simulations, as well as small and large group discussions. Students will also have the opportunity to explore energy-related careers, expand their understanding of energy through meaningful projects, and reflect on their broadened comprehension of energy using their STEM journals.
 
There are five modules in this course, each of which includes facilitator’s notes, correlations to appropriate Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a materials list for each activity, inquiry-based activities from which to choose, and suggested projects and journal reflections for students.

 

 

Notes

  • Each student should have a STEM Journal to use for all of their activities.

  • Safety procedures should be reviewed at the beginning of the course and before each activity as necessary.

  • Students could get messy and wet! Ask them to wear appropriate clothes, and bring an extra shirt and pants to change into if necessary.

  • A number of activities last more than one day.  Secure a location to store long-term experiments.

  • Some activities will be conducted outside.

  • Every module includes some inquiry activities done using technology.

 

 

Scientific Inquiry

The goal of Discovery?s STEM Camp is to build a love of inquiry, so there is no expectation of detailed written analysis or assessment in the activities.  Understanding can be built through a multitude of experiences along with rich and stimulating discussions about science concepts and practices.

 

We have provided some suggestions for guiding student thinking, but not step-by-step instructions. However, to make the modules even more effective, we suggest the following:

 

  • Data should be student-driven. Students should determine on their own what data they need to collect, how to organize it, and how to perform calculations.

  • Leave design to the students. Students should be encouraged to design the activity or parts of the activity, or to modify the activity rather than having a facilitator tell them exactly what to do, in order to engage students in the engineering design process.

  • Encourage students to use evidence. Ask students to use evidence, experience, and logical reasoning to come up with explanations on their own first before revealing any information.

  • Encourage questions. Students should feel safe to ask questions, figure out ways to answer their questions, identify problems, and pose solutions to problems.

  • Foster connections. Help students to connect concepts and activities to things they are doing in school, to everyday life, or to current events.

 

 

Background Information

We recognize that each camp facilitator has different background knowledge. We have included some background information with each module, along with Web links to additional information. For general information on energy, we suggest the following sites:
 

 
Objectives as well as appropriate core ideas and scientific and engineering practices from the Next Generation Science Standards are listed for each module.

 

Activity Safety

While the activities in STEM Camp Energy are relatively safe, as with any type of inquiry experience, it is important that camp facilitators and students always take proper safety precautions.

  • Identify any students with allergies or medical concerns.

  • Students and facilitators should wash their hands at the end of every activity.

  • As with any inquiry experience, students and facilitators should never put anything in their mouths, including their hands, unless the directions explicitly say that it is okay to do this.

  • Caution should be taken around water of varying temperatures to avoid burns.

  • Be aware of possible slippery floors when water may be spilled. Keep a towel or mop handy.
  • When working outside with students, always be aware of the surroundings and what individual students are doing. Follow school regulations for taking students off-campus