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:
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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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects:
Next Generation Science Standards:
STEM Camp Notebook
Activity: Setting the Stage
Activity: Blowin in the Wind
Materials Needed for Each Team of 2-4 Students
Testing Wind Turbines
Materials Needed Per Class
Activity: You Are Getting Warmer
Materials Needed for Each Team of 2-4 students:
Download and share with students this "STEMthusiasm Award"
Help students feel rewarded by printing out and distributing this colorful certficate.
Download ideas for sample digital products students can create to share their learning at the end of STEM Camp.
Daily letters sharing activities from the day and resources to explore at home.
Download STEM Camp logos to use on materials you create.
A daily breakdown of the materials needed for all of the STEM Camp activities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.