Monday, October 17, 2011

Introducing Solar Science Week, Day One

This school year we have decided to complete our science in one week blocks throughout the year.   I've divided the school year up into seven terms according to when we have breaks planned.   Each term except the last one ends with a science week.  

Our first science week kicked off today!

If you've read my recent article, How to Create a Science Course from a Science Kit, than you know our science studies are planned  around a science kit (or two).

Our main kit  for this study is 

Picture courtesy of Thames and Kosmos

We will also utilize some smaller kits throughout the week.   

The topics to be studied this week include:  

Law of Conservation
Active Solar Energy
Passive Solar Energy
Solar Cells
Solar Collectors
Non-Renewable Energy Sources
Renewable Energy Sources

We started off reading pg 106-109 in the Usborne Internet-Linked Science Encyclopedia.

This gave us an overview of energy.

Next we read about Solar Energy and Solar Cells on pages 629- 630 of the Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia.

More reading in The Kids' Solar Energy Book by Tilly Spetgang and Malcolm Wells on How it All Began.

Enlightening even for this adult, this book is crammed full of interesting information. For instance, I didn't know the first mechanized use of solar power was demonstrated at the World's Exposition in France during the late 1890s with a printing press that printed leaflets about the virtues of solar power! And that soon afterwards roof mounted solar collectors became all the rage in the American Southwest for heating water. Unfortunately, these inventions were put aside when the ease of oil and gas energy were brought to the forefront in the first decade of the 1900s.  

Next we watched Basics of Physics: Exploring Energy on the Discovery Education Site, which covered more info on energy, renewable and non-renewable resources,  and had a particularly good explanation of potential and kinetic energy.

The best part of the day came when we got to pull out our Solar Power Kits.

Sorting all our parts.

I-E created a helicopter
and was a bit disappointed it didn't fly, but the rotor turned

A bulldozer caught E-R's eye 
moved around some mulch.

Finishing off the day was an assignment to write a paragraph about a topic discussed today.     

E-R's paragraph

The law of Conservation is “energy can never be destroyed or made, however energy reforms itself.”  There are different forms of energy such as: heat, chemical, light, kinetic, potential, sound, and mechanical energy. Scientist show how energy is reformed though energy chains.  One energy chain from the book, The Usborne Internet-Linked Science Encyclopedia, says that coal is fossilized plants.  When the coal is burned, and turns into heat energy to heat water and makes steam.  The steam turns turbines and  this produces kinetic energy.  The kinetic energy is turned into electrical energy in a  generator.  Then the electrical energy is used to power things.  The Bulldozer I made moves by sun light so that is called solar energy.  The solar energy turns into electrical energy to move the Bulldozer.  Energy can never be destroyed or made, but it can be reformed.

Be sure to check out throughout the week to see more happening from Solar Science Week.



  1. The unit sounds awesome! Your son's paragraph is quite impressive. I just love hands-on learning.

    Can't wait to hear about the rest of the week.

    Many blessings,

  2. What a great idea! I'd never thought of breaking up a subject into weekly chunks and spreading them out over the year. This simple change would make our schedule so much better! Thanks for sharing. I found you on the Hip Homeschool Hop.

  3. Great job on the science kits and breaking them down. I sometimes do that but not to the degree you have so I will be taking away a few hints:) Great job

  4. Looks interesting! I'm going to have to remember this when my boys are a little older. Thanks for sharing.

  5. What a GREAT idea to do Science blocks around kits! We have several floating around on the school shelves that would be awesome for this!

  6. Science is always fun! My boys enjoy it so much! That unit sounds great. :)

  7. My son Brent, would love your science, especially that kit. He loves putting things together.

  8. I really like your idea of doing one week of concentrated science per 6 weeks! Thanks for sharing all your resources, too!

  9. Awesome unit study! I wish living with solar power were as simple as the kits. Living without PG&E or other centralized power is a challenge. All of our electrical gadgets take more power than most of us imagine.

    My daughter saw your post and said, "OOh what are those?" The kits got her attention. We will be investigating those. Thanks for the great tip.


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