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How to Teach a Lesson on Solar Energy in a High School Science Class

Grade Level Grades 9-12, Professional Development


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Lessons about the environment are critical for any age, but these are particularly important for high school age students. As young adults start to learn their place in their world, this is the perfect opportunity to learn about environmental impact and energy. As you look to explore the world of energy use, sustainability initiatives and energy sources, consider these key lessons on how high school students can learn about energy, sustainability and environmentally conscious efforts.

Learn How Solar Energy Works

For many students, they understand that there are various forms of energy; however, they may not understand how this can impact their daily lives. Give your students the task of understanding how solar energy can work in their daily lives. Have them research what happens to the sun’s rays and how it can be turned into viable energy. Learning how solar panels and a solar panel battery can be turned into the energy that is used to fuel our daily lives is fascinating and a lesson on the real world.

Investigate What Energy Sources Exist in Their Homes and Lives

As your students venture down the path of research into energy, apply this to their lives by having them investigate what energy looks like in their worlds. Task them with looking into what energy sources power their everyday activities and document their energy use each day. This log can give them the opportunity to hypothesize the energy-saving possibilities in their life. Get them to dive deep and reflect on their lives in this lesson. If you want to par down this experiment, consider having them log the amount of time that they use personal electronic devices like cell phones, tablets, laptops and smartwatches and then brainstorm ways to reduce their energy use.

Energy-Related Research Projects

If you are looking to let your students dive deep into energy sources, research projects may be the perfect outlet. By giving them a broad topic, they can research an area of energy that truly interests them. Through their natural curiosity and interest, your students are more likely to develop a natural kinship and connection to their topic and develop a love of learning. With this individual project, they can dive as deep into the topic as they would like and focus on areas that they want to know more about.

Energy and Sustainability Focused Science Fair

There is nothing like a little bit of friendly competition to spark creativity. If your students are excited by the opportunity to embrace new challenges, consider how a science fair with an energy and sustainability theme could fuel new innovation. By providing them with a theme without a clear problem or issue at hand to solve, they can each interpret the prompt. This can give your high school students the space they need to blossom and truly thrive.

Case Competitions

If your students are truly looking to embrace their competitive side, case competitions can be a wonderful activity to harness this energy. In this activity, you get to provide your teams with a challenge or problem that they then need to solve. As a team, they will be pushed to find an answer that addresses all of the dilemmas and issues within the presented predicament. While this can teach them a lot handling a challenge in a small amount of time, it also forces collaboration, teamwork and healthy competition. Coaching your students on what case competitions are and how to solve them can also set them up for future college success where this may come up.

Learning important lessons about energy use, alternatives and more sustainable living is a critical lesson for everyone; however, this is even more important for high school students who are beginning to find their way in the world. By letting them learn more about energy and renewable sources through their own exploration, there is the opportunity to build a sense of curiosity, connection and interest in the issues at hand. Prime them with these lessons and let them dive in.


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