The Sun Does What? Understanding Solar Energy in Kindergarten

Melanie Kirschner, Kindergarten, Albemarle Road Elementary School

Final Unit (PDF)     Implementing Common Core Standards (PDF)

200 Word Synopsis

Renewable energy is a part of the future and it is necessary to give our Kindergarten students an introduction to energy and solar energy in particular. This curriculum unit explores different types of energy (stored and kinetic), thermal energy and electricity produced from the solar energy. Students will complete labs in order to gain proficiency of how thermal energy works by heating things up and how we can use a solar panel to create electricity to power multiple items, such as a calculator, watch, or even our homes. Students are allowed to work through their labs in a trial and error way, allowing them to guide their own learning. They will study how sunlight heats up water and how they can use the sun to cook a hot dog. They will also experiment with photovoltaic cells to see how they work. They will also see what happens when they do not get much sunlight or if they get plenty. Throughout the unit, the students will be recording all their thoughts and findings in a science journal. In a culminating activity, students will work in groups to put together a solar car and see how far they can make it travel.