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Hands-on Standards STEM in Action: Solar House Design Challenge (Curriculum Exchange)

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Curriculum Exchange

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.836.1 - 26.836.3



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Paper Authors


Elizabeth Gajdzik Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Elizabeth Gajdzik is the Assistant Director of the Institute for Pre-College Engineering (INSPIRE) in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received both her B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a specialization in mathematics education and M.S.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in mathematics education from Baylor University. Prior to her work at INSPIRE, Elizabeth was a district curriculum math specialist in San Antonio, TX and a middle school mathematics teacher at a Title 1 school in Waco, TX.

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Johannes Strobel Texas A&M University

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Dr. Johannes Strobel is Director, Educational Outreach Programs and Associate Professor, Engineering & Education at Texas A&M, College Station. He received his M.Ed. and Ph.D. in Information Science & Learning Technologies from the University of Missouri. His research/teaching focuses on engineering as an innovation in pK-12 education, policy of STEM education, how to support teachers and students' academic achievements through engineering, engineering ‘habits of mind' and empathy and care in engineering. He has published more than 140 journal articles and proceedings papers in engineering education and educational technology and is the inaugural editor for the Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research.

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Hands-On Standards STEM in Action: Solar House Design Challenge (Curriculum Exchange)Hands-On Standards STEM in Action is an activity-based integrated science, technology,engineering and mathematics program made up of three suites of modules: the PreK - AdventureSeries, the Grades K-2 Exploration Series and the Grades 3-5 Challenge Series. The modules aredesigned to develop students’ critical problem-solving skills through age appropriatecollaborative engineering activities and to be easy to implement and time-efficient for theteacher. The Grades K-5 modules meet Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) andCommon Core State Standards (CCSS) for their respective grade levels, while the PreK modulestarget readiness for NGSS standards by foreshadowing content and practices.Solar House Design Challenge ModuleStudents are charged as engineers to help their client determine how to best use the sun to heathomes. The module builds students’ understanding of energy conversion, passive solar energy,applying the area formula in a real world problem and budgeting while sharpening their criticalthinking skills.The module addresses 4th grade NGSS and CCSS and is sectioned into seven 15- to 60-minuteblocks or 300 total minutes of instruction.Module overview: • Get Ready to Engineer: Students help their client investigate three types of flooring they are considering using in their homes. Students predict which one they think will have the greatest increase and the greatest retention of temperature. They conduct a fair test and then analyze the collected data. • Define the Problem: Students engage in a class discussion about the movement of energy and review key vocabulary. Visuals and an interactive tool are provided to help illustrate the concepts for students. Students identify the criteria, constraints, and variables of the problem. • Plan Solutions: Students work independently and then in teams to use what they have learned about passive solar heating to create a design plan and develop a materials budget for their passive solar house. • Make a Model: Teams use their design plans to build their models. • Test the Model: Teams conduct fair tests to determine if their models meet the criteria of the problem. Students calculate the total open area on each side of the house and roof. Teams prepare and present their findings. The class then compares their designs to determine the relationship between the team designs that were most successful and the features of those designs. • Reflect and Redesign: Teams make claims supported by evidence about their model houses. Finally they use the test results and feedback from classmates to optimize the design of their model house.The module’s kit includes: • Activity materials for 6 teams of 4 or 5 students including: clip-on lamps and stands, light bulbs (150W soft white), digital thermometers, timer, six piece house, foam-core, brick veneer, light ceramic tile, slate tile, and transparencies (4 cm x 4 cm and 3 cm x 5 cm). Teacher-provided materials include: scissors, ruler, (6) gallon zip bags, clear tape, masking tape, black or colored markers, and protractor. • (6) Student Activity Books • (1) Teacher Guide with assessment rubric • Blackline masters • Digital classroom lesson

Gajdzik, E., & Strobel, J. (2015, June), Hands-on Standards STEM in Action: Solar House Design Challenge (Curriculum Exchange) Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24173

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