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Date

Nov 10, 2021

Duration

70 minutes

Grades

3rd, 4th, 5th

Subjects

  • Science
  • English Language Arts
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Physical Science

Regional Focus

  • Africa

How Does Renewable Energy Work? (Renewable Energy #4)

Synopsis

In this lesson, students learn the story of William Kamkwamba, build their own renewable-powered project, and share their project with the broader school community. 


Step 1 - Inquire: Students listen to a read aloud of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, a story about a Malawian boy named William Kamkwamba who helped bring energy to his community.


Step 2 - Investigate: Students build a renewable-powered project.


Step 3 - Inspire: Students write about their project and share their project with the broader school community.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
Inquire
15 minutes
  • Students recall what they learned in the previous few lessons. Students use the word bubbles on the Teacher Slideshow to guide their thinking.
  • Teacher shares background information about William Kamkwamba and points out Malawi on the map.
  • Teacher reads The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind out loud for the class.
  • Teacher leads a brief discussion with students using guiding questions on the Teacher Slideshow.
  • Teacher may share additional provided resources if students would like to know more about William Kamkwamba.
Investigate
40 minutes
  • Students build their own renewable-powered project individually or in groups.
  • There are five options for students. Three of the options need specialized supplies, and two of the options use supplies that are readily available in most classrooms.
Inspire
15 minutes
  • Students write about their projects using the guide on the Teacher Slideshow.
  • Students share their projects with the broader school community.
    • Student projects and written summaries can be displayed in a common area in the school like a hallway or auditorium.
    • Students could present their projects to another class in the school.
Teaching Tips

Positives

  • Students learn the inspiring story of William Kamkwamba and how he brought power to his community.
  • Students get to engineer with their hands!

Additional Prerequisites

  • This is lesson 4 of 6 in our 3rd-5th grade Renewable Energy unit.
  • You will need to procure a copy of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind for this lesson.
  • The Investigate section of this lesson plan is listed as 40 minutes long. However, some students may need more time to finish their projects. Perhaps they could keep building their projects before school, at recess, after school, or at home.
  • It may be best to check with your administration or team teachers to see if your students can display their projects in a common area. Also, a "please do not touch" sign may be necessary for the display so your students' creations do not get broken.
  • This lesson may need to be postponed if it is not sunny or windy enough on that day.

Differentiation

  • You may not have enough specialized materials (small solar panel, hobby motor, etc.) for all students. Students can work in groups to share these limited materials.
  • If you decide to have your students present to another class, encourage every student to have a speaking part.
  • Perhaps you can allow students to bring in materials from home. Be mindful of students who have nicer materials and how other students feel if they are using school materials only.
Standards
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 4-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and that their uses affect the environment.
    • PS3: Energy
      • 4-PS3-4 Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • 3-5-ETS1-1 Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Writing (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.4 With guidance and support from adults, produce writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task and purpose.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

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