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An NGSS-Aligned Engineering Design Lesson on Solar Energy and Human Sustainability (Resource Exchange)

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

PCEE Resource Exchange

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Erica J. Marti University of Nevada, Las Vegas Orcid 16x16

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Erica Marti completed her PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). She holds a Master of Science in Engineering and Master of Education from UNLV and a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to graduate studies, Erica joined Teach for America and taught high school chemistry in Las Vegas. While her primary research involves water and wastewater, she has strong interests in engineering education research, teacher professional development, and secondary STEM education.

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Jenny Valdez Las Vegas Academy of the Arts

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Jenny Valdez is a Geoscience H and AP Environmental Science teacher at the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts in Nevada. She has a bachelor's degree in Secondary Education with an Emphasis in General Science from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She also has a master's degree in School Counseling from Touro University, Nevada.

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With the introduction of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), many teachers are looking for ways to bring engineering design into their classroom. A teacher-developed unit on solar energy and human sustainability was created around a portable solar thermal water heater built by college students. The 8-day unit meets several NGSS performance expectations at the high school level, including engineering design. Students first learn about the greenhouse effect, solar radiation, and climate change. Next, they learn about the fundamentals of solar energy and how a solar thermal water heater works. In either a hands-on lab or a demonstration, students see the operation of a solar thermal water heater. Finally, students are posed with a design challenge: they must create their own thermal panel using an assortment of available materials. Students must think about material properties as they go through the engineering design process to define the problem, develop solutions, and optimize their thermal panel. The lesson also includes an introductory lesson on engineering design for students and teachers who are new to the process. In addition, the use of a solar thermal water heater exposes students to technology that is often not part of a traditional science curriculum.

Marti, E. J., & Valdez, J. (2019, June), An NGSS-Aligned Engineering Design Lesson on Solar Energy and Human Sustainability (Resource Exchange) Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32080

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