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Authors

Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education, University of Wisconsin Stevens Point K-12 Energy Education Program

Grades

6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects

Science, Social Studies, Geography, Mathematics, Engineering

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans
  • Worksheets
  • Presentation Slides
  • Interactive Media
  • Charts, Graphs, and Tables

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Midwest, Wisconsin

Format

Google Docs, Google Slides

Can Wisconsin Go Solar?

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Synopsis
  • This lesson leads students through an exploration into Wisconsin's potential for solar power production, including data analysis, ArcGIS maps, and a focus on solutions.
  • Students will interpret solar dashboards, maps, and graphs to determine if Wisconsin is an ideal location for solar power.
Teaching Tips

Positives

  • There are a few opportunities for extension listed, as well as other lessons on climate issues that follow a similar format.
  • Directions to navigate the solar dashboards are easy to follow and many students could follow these directions without adult guidance.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should already know how to interpret graphs, maps, and charts. With younger students, it may be helpful to go over how to read each map and graph as a class.
  • It may be helpful if students know about greenhouse gases, the greenhouse effect, and how current means of energy production are contributing to climate change.
  • Some students, including English language learners, may need the terms geospatial, generation, array, and photovoltaic defined prior to starting the lesson.
  • Students should have a basic understanding of latitude and longitude. 

Differentiation

  • For students who do not speak/read English, the slides can be translated to their primary language using the translate function in Google Slides.
  • Strategic pairing can be used if you have a few students who struggle with interpreting data and if many students struggle with this concept, the worksheet can be completed as a class.
  • Students can map out where solar panels are located in their area and/or discuss where the placement of solar panels would be in their area.
  • Students can extend this exploration by researching what their school would need to do to incorporate solar power if they don't already.
Scientist Notes
This resource is a lesson plan developed by the Wisconsin K-12 Energy Education Progam (KEEP) that tasks students with determining if solar electricity generation is a good fit in Wisconsin. The included slide show features great instructions for students to give them confidence in navigating the linked ArcGIS resources and is filled with clear, well-sourced figures. The lesson also features a student sheet to help students organize their collected data into tables and includes space to answer questions. This resource really forces students to analyze how solar electricity generation varies seasonally and geographically and to think about how areas with low photovoltaic power potential can still successfully include solar electricity generation in their energy portfolio. This resource is recommended for teaching.
Standards
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-2 Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • 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.
      • HS-ETS1-1 Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.2.6-8 Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions, and changes in their environmental characteristics.
      • D2.Geo.1.9-12 Use geospatial and related technologies to create maps to display and explain the spatial patterns of cultural and environmental characteristics.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.7.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  • Common Core Math Standards (CCSS.MATH)
    • Statistics & Probability (6-8)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.SP.A.2 Understand that a set of data collected to answer a statistical question has a distribution which can be described by its center, spread, and overall shape.
    • Statistics & Probability: Making Inferences & Justifying Conclusions (9-12)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSS.IC.B.6 Evaluate reports based on data.
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