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Pacific Education Institute


K, 1st, 2nd


Science, Earth and Space Sciences, English Language Arts

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Renewable Energy: Solar

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  • In this collection of 8 lessons, students will learn about light energy, heat energy, how light interacts with objects, and how color affects heat.
  • Students will begin by connecting the Sun to Native culture and listen to a Native American story about the Sun.
  • Inspired by the story, students will design a hat to minimize the effects of the Sun's heat on the eagle's head, then do experiments and activities to update their design and demonstrate their learning.
Teaching Tips


  • The animated video does a great job of explaining translucent, transparent, and opaque in simple terms.
  • Many hands-on activities, videos, and stories will keep students engaged and are effective for all kinds of learners.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The link to the solar energy experiment will not take you to the correct page on the website, but you can find a similar activity here.
  • The link to the Program Manager of Energy Efficiency in the extension section is broken.


  • Students can go on a hunt around their homes for objects that are transparent, translucent, opaque, and reflective and either bring in what they find or pictures of them to school.
  • After they learn about heat and color, have students plan an outfit for different weather conditions.
  • If you have the time and materials, have students make their hat designs and test them outside.
Scientist Notes
This resource compiled by CLEAN and developed by the Pacific Education Institute is about light (solar) and how it can affect the climate and the weather. A 2-3 week lesson plan is provided that walks students through exercises and activities involving light where students collect their own data to analyze. The exercises are age-appropriate and well-designed to activate critical thinking skills. This lesson would be a great addition to a classroom discussion about what contributes to climate change.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • K-2-ETS1-2 Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
      • K-2-ETS1-3 Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.
    • PS3: Energy
      • K-PS3-1 Make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on Earth’s surface.
      • K-PS3-2 Use tools and materials to design and build a structure that will reduce the warming effect of sunlight on an area.
    • PS4: Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer
      • 1-PS4-2 Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that objects can be seen only when illuminated.
      • 1-PS4-3 Plan and conduct an investigation to determine the effect of placing objects made with different materials in the path of a beam of light.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.2.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 2 topic or subject area.
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.1.5 Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
    • Writing (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.1.8 With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
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