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Excellent Energy Engineering Activities Inside: • Pump It Up! Challenge • Light-a-Bulb Challenge • Wind Weightlifting Challenge • Energy House Design Challenge

• Plant-based Battery Challenge • Solar Oven Challenge

Grade Levels:





Subject Areas: Science Technology


Teacher Information &Background With the increased focus on engineering and design instruction, teachers are looking for more activities that incorporate these concepts into their curriculum. Many NEED activities lend themselves well to being modified for engineering and design challenges. In this sampler we have modified six of our lessons to demonstrate how seamlessly you can incorporate engineering and design into your science content lessons. The key to developing a good design lesson is “less is more.” Give your students as few directions as possible; provide them with just enough information to know what the purpose of the challenge is and how they can get started with their design. It can be difficult as a teacher to let loose of the reins a bit and allow students more freedom in their explorations. However, we feel confident that your students will be able to learn what they need to learn with your guidance, while being able to develop the skills necessary to problem-solve and design solutions to well-defined challenges. None of the parameters set in the activities within this booklet are magical or set in stone. As you read through them, you may have a different idea about how you will challenge your students or how to best level the challenge to meet your students’ needs. Add, delete, or edit parameters as necessary. We have also provided a generic rubric for assessment of engineering and design and science process skills on pages 13-14. Use and edit as needed. Each activity in this sampler is based on more cookbook-style activities already in print in other NEED curriculum guides, and each is referenced in the individual activity. We recommend you review those activities to become familiar with them. The other important item to remember is to trust yourself and your students. If you give them welldefined parameters, they will meet or exceed your expectations. The key to quality student work is to tell students what is expected. If an activity is too open-ended, students become overwhelmed and aren’t sure where to begin. Each activity includes an introduction, suggested design and testing parameters, and “Teachers’ Cheats”, along with additional extension and enrichment opportunities. Teachers’ Cheats provide helpful tips for when your students become bogged down or get stuck on one area of the challenge. It is suggested that you do not share these tips with students prior to beginning the challenges.

Check out the rubric example beginning on page 13 for assessment opportunities!


©2018 The NEED Project

Excellent Energy Engineering





Pump It Up! Challenge

ƒDark ƒ liquid ƒScissors ƒ ƒTape ƒ ƒStraws ƒ of varying diameters ƒCups ƒ ƒPaper ƒ towels ƒRulers ƒ or meter sticks

ƒVery ƒ sticky tape or clay ƒBalance ƒ

Light-a-Bulb Challenge

ƒSmall ƒ light bulbs ƒD-cell ƒ batteries

ƒAlligator ƒ clips ƒAluminum ƒ foil strips ƒPaper ƒ clips ƒOther ƒ conducting materials ƒObjects ƒ to test for conductance ƒTape ƒ (masking, electrical, etc.)

Wind Weightlifting Challenge

ƒPaper ƒ clips ƒString, ƒ thread, or fishing line ƒFan(s) ƒ ƒStopwatch ƒ or timer ƒRulers ƒ ƒScissors ƒ ƒGlue ƒ ƒTape ƒ ƒProtractors ƒ

ƒCups ƒ of various sizes and types ƒDowel ƒ rods of assorted widths ƒPaper ƒ ƒCardboard ƒ (corrugated boxes or cereal boxes) ƒCorrugated ƒ plastic (yard signs) ƒPopsicle ƒ sticks ƒRecycled ƒ materials, such as water bottles, old CDs, etc. ƒHole ƒ punches ƒStraws ƒ and stirrers of various sizes

Energy House Design Challenge

ƒThermometers ƒ ƒZip-close ƒ sandwich bags ƒIce ƒ ƒScissors ƒ ƒGlue ƒ ƒTape ƒ

ƒCorrugated ƒ cardboard ƒCorrugated ƒ plastic (yard signs) ƒCeramic ƒ or slate tiles ƒQuilt ƒ batting pieces ƒPolyester ƒ fiberfill ƒFoam-core ƒ board ƒPoster ƒ board ƒCraft ƒ wood ƒRecycled ƒ materials, such as cereal boxes, egg cartons, etc. ƒCaulking ƒ and/or weather stripping ƒClear ƒ silicone adhesive

Plant-based Battery Challenge

ƒAlligator ƒ clips ƒMicroammeter ƒ or digital multimeter ƒPieces ƒ of different kinds of metal

ƒAssorted ƒ fruits, vegetables, and fruit juices

Solar Oven Challenge

ƒScissors ƒ or box cutters ƒPlastic ƒ wrap ƒTape ƒ ƒRulers ƒ ƒThermometers ƒ ƒPringles™ ƒ cans or shipping tubes

ƒAluminum ƒ foil ƒSkewers ƒ ƒFoam ƒ batting ƒNewspaper ƒ ƒTransparency ƒ film ƒBlack ƒ paper ƒFood ƒ to cook (mini hot dogs, s’mores, carrots, cookie dough, etc.) ƒTimer ƒ

©2018 The NEED Project

Excellent Energy Engineering



Pump It Up! Challenge Often when a petroleum or natural gas deposit is first tapped, the pressure on the fluid is sufficient to push it to the surface without any assisted pumping. However, as the well is accessed over time, the pressure in the well decreases and assisting devices, such as horse head pumps, are needed to draw the resource out of the ground. Greater pressure may need to be applied depending on the viscosity (thickness) of the fluid, and the distance from the surface. This activity is based on Getting the Oil Out, an activity found in NEED’s petroleum and natural gas curriculum guides. We have modified the activity to allow students to choose the diameter of the straw they use as well as how they connect straws together. This activity demonstrates how a partial vacuum created at the top of a straw allows atmospheric pressure to force a fluid up into the straw. This challenge is much simpler than some of the others in this book. It can be a good introduction to design for your students without being too involved or requiring more than a class period or two.

Design Parameters ƒThe ƒ challenge is to pump “oil” (an edible dark liquid) from the “reservoir” (cup of liquid) using a “well” made of straws and one “pump” (a student). ƒThe ƒ “oil” must pass through two meters of straw. ƒOnly ƒ one “pump” can draw oil up at a time – no double-teaming allowed.

Testing Parameters ƒMeasure ƒ the amount of oil produced within a short time frame; we suggest 90 seconds, but you may need to extend this based on the strength of your students. Oil is measured by expelling it into a measuring cup or graduated cylinder. Alternatively, you may wish to fill all reservoir cups to the same level, mark it, and then mark on each how far the level of liquid went down.

Teachers’ Cheats ƒ“Two ƒ meters of straw” does not mean the oil must be drawn up through a two meter, continuous length of straw. Two one-meter lengths might work well, too. (Unless you specify otherwise.) ƒWide ƒ diameter straws require more suction pressure than more narrow straws. ƒStudents ƒ must make sure their taped seams allow absolutely no air to seep into the straw. This disrupts the partial vacuum the student is trying to form above the column of fluid. You may need to have stickier tape or some clay on hand to plug air leaks.

Extensions and Enrichment ƒHave ƒ a contest to see which student or student team can bring oil up the “deepest well”.

To calculate the area of the straw well, do the following:

ƒHave ƒ students build a well with multiple reservoirs and one pump to compare the pressure needed.

2. Divide by 2. This is the radius.

1. Measure the diameter of the straw in centimeters.

ƒHave ƒ students build a well with multiple pumps and one reservoir for comparison.

3. Square the radius.

ƒProvide ƒ students with liquids of various viscosities to determine how their structural design may need to differ.

5. Divide the area by 10,000. This is the area in m2.

4. Multiply the radius by π. This is the area in cm2.

ƒBring ƒ math skills into the activity by having students measure the mass, in kilograms, of the volume of liquid they produced from their well. Use F=ma, with a=9.8 m/s2 (acceleration due to gravity), to determine the weight of the liquid in Newtons (N). Then divide by the area of the well in meters to find N/m2, the pressure of the well they created. Compare this to standard atmospheric pressure, 101,325 N/m2 or Pascals (Pa).


©2018 The NEED Project

Excellent Energy Engineering


Light-a-bulb Challenge Most kids know how to connect a battery, in a battery holder, to a light bulb in a socket and light the bulb. However, do they know which part(s) of the battery and bulb are actively involved in completing the circuit? Understanding conductors, insulators, and open and closed circuits are standards across the country, and this activity can help your students understand what, exactly, is making them work. This activity is based loosely on the circuits activities found in NEED’s ElectroWorks unit, but is more open-ended than the prescribed activities. The challenge asks students to be able to complete an electrical circuit given some basic materials and little else.

Design Parameters ƒProvided ƒ with a battery and a small light bulb, find materials and use them to light the bulb with the battery. ƒStudents ƒ may not use things like Snap Circuits or building toys with electronics built-in. ƒDesigns ƒ may not include pre-manufactured circuit boards, battery holders, light bulb sockets, etc. ƒDesigns ƒ may be held together with tape, but should not be soldered together.

Testing Parameter There is only one parameter for this challenge: If the light bulb lights, the design is successful.

Teachers’ Cheats ƒD-cell ƒ batteries are the most cost-effective cells to use for this activity. AA or AAA batteries are the same voltage as D-cell, but produce less current and if short-circuited will run out of power faster. ƒBatteries ƒ connected to bulbs with thin wires will heat the wires very quickly. Also, connection points on the battery and bulb may get hot, so students should always tape them in place rather than holding connections together with their fingers. ƒThe ƒ simplest circuit can be constructed with one battery, one light bulb, and one wire or strip, as shown.

Extensions and Enrichment ƒSubstitute ƒ the small incandescent bulbs for LEDs. You can get LEDs from failed strings of holiday lights. Note: LEDs only work in one direction, so if it does not work as connected, reverse the connection. ƒGive ƒ students more than one battery, have them connect the batteries in series (positive to negative), and compare the brightness of the bulb. ƒGive ƒ students some random objects to insert in their light bulb circuits. Have students classify them as a conductor or insulator based on their results.

©2018 The NEED Project

Excellent Energy Engineering



Wind Weightlifting Challenge Before wind energy was used to generate electricity, it was used to do physical labor. Goods and people were transported using wind power. Old windmills ground grain into flour and wind power was used to pump water for livestock and farming. This challenge focuses on using wind energy to do physical work by lifting paper clips. This activity is based on Wind Can Do Work, an activity found in NEED’s wind curriculum guides. You can construct towers based on this design, using cups and straws and a blade template, or you can have students come up with their own design completely from scratch. Essential materials include string or thread and paper clips. Additional materials can be provided based on what is available. A list on page 3 provides some inspiration. It is often fun to provide detractor materials, or materials that may not appear to be useful, as students can work through the challenge and refine their design.

Design Parameters ƒWind ƒ turbines, from the bottom of the base to the highest point of the blades in their highest position, can be no more than 25 centimeters. ƒAll ƒ turbines must have no fewer than 3 and no more than 5 blades. ƒThe ƒ turbine must be able to turn on its own when the fan is turned on. No hands-on assistance to overcome inertia is permitted. ƒPaper ƒ clips must be lifted at least 15 centimeters. This means the lifting mechanism must be able to clear a little more than 15 centimeters.

Testing Parameters 1. Use a fan on medium speed. (If a high velocity fan is used, it may be necessary to start at low speed.) 2. Count the number of paper clips the turbine can lift in a two-minute period. Clips must have completely left the ground or table and have been lifted completely to the top of the lifting mechanism. 3. Paper clips that fall while being lifted do not count.

Teachers’ Cheats These are some things that you will know that your students will not know, that can help you spur the students’ creativity and thinking: ƒBlades ƒ should be inserted in the hub at an angle. Flat blades will not spin consistently. ƒIf ƒ a paper pinwheel turbine is used, it may need to be secured in front of and behind the turbine to keep it from blowing backward on the rotor. This can save many minutes of frustration for your students. ƒProvide ƒ protractors and rulers so students can evenly space their blades on their rotor assembly. ƒGears ƒ are excellent maximizers of efficiency as are pulleys. Building toys have parts that can be used this way. ƒPower ƒ equals work done divided by the time taken to do the work. Students do not have to lift all their paper clips all at once. They can remove paper clips that have been lifted the full distance, lower the lifting mechanism, and continue.


©2018 The NEED Project

Excellent Energy Engineering



Energy House DESIGN Challenge

Sustainable building design is becoming more and more prevalent in architecture and construction. Obtaining an ENERGY STAR®, LEED, or other efficiency certification status is becoming more important to companies wishing to reduce their carbon footprints and promote a more sustainable way of living. Introducing students to sustainable design is the purpose of this challenge. This activity is based on NEED’s Energy House. However, here we are allowing more creativity and design elements to enter into the activity. For example, while the original activity has students all using the same size box, this activity allows students to be a little more creative and develop their own house size and shape and choose their own materials.

Design Parameters ƒUsing ƒ the scale of 1 inch = 1 foot, students must construct a house that provides at least 1,800 ft2 of living space. Garages, porches, and basements do not count toward the living space requirement. ƒUse ƒ corrugated cardboard to construct a frame for the house to include floors, corners/joints, ceilings, and interior walls. Exterior walls can be constructed from a variety of materials and should include openings for doors, staircases, etc., just as they would exist in a regular house. Interior walls are not insulated. ƒStudents ƒ may use any construction materials they desire, but the exterior walls must have a total R-value of 14 and the attic/roof must have a total R-value of 47, including exterior coverings such as siding, shingles, or brick.

Note: For this activity we are using imperial units of inches and feet, which mesh with U.S. building codes and manufacturer’s specifications for construction materials. It would be cumbersome for students to have to convert inches to centimeters every time they needed to know the thickness of a piece of material and its corresponding R-value.

ƒHouse ƒ designs must include two doors, and one square foot of window for every ten square feet of floor space. For a 1,800 ft2 house, 180 ft2 of windows must be included. The doors must open and close, but the windows do not need to open. ƒHouses ƒ must have at least 2 ft2 of attic space, or a fully insulated roof/ceiling. ƒHouses ƒ can have a basement, crawl space, or slab-style foundation. All houses must have an insulated floor. ƒAll ƒ walls must be covered so that no insulating materials are exposed.

R-Value Chart for Modeling Materials The materials listed in the chart on page 8 are common construction materials, with suggested modeling materials that have similar properties to the materials they represent. The actual R-value of your students’ houses will not be the same as if the walls were actually constructed of those materials, but it will give a good idea of how well your students’ choices will perform in keeping the interior insulated from the exterior weather. Students should come as close as possible to making materials as thick, to scale, as their regularly constructed walls would be. For example, a two-inch foam board would be modeled with a foam material that is 1/6” thick, or 0.17 inches thick. To calculate the total R-value of a wall constructed with different materials, add the individual R-values for each material in the wall. For example, if the wall is made of concrete block, insulated with fiberglass, and covered with sheet rock, the R-value is 1+13+0.45 = 14.45.

©2018 The NEED Project

Excellent Energy Engineering



Insulating Materials

Wall Covering

Roofing Materials Alternative Construction

Construction Material


Model Material

Cellulose (blown-in)

4 per inch thickness

Mechanically shredded paper


13 per 3” batt

Quilt batting or polyester fiberfill

Polystyrene foam board

4.5 per inch thickness

Craft foam, foam sheets, foam-core board, egg carton foam

Plastic fiber batt

3.5 per inch thickness

Polyester fiberfill

Spray foam

7 per inch thickness

Canned, aerosol spray foam*

Reflective facing


Aluminum foil

Wood siding or plywood sheathing


Hobby plywood**

Concrete block


Ceramic or slate tile

Drywall / sheet rock


Poster board



Ceramic or slate tile

Asphalt roofing shingles


Thick plastic, or leftover roofing materials***

Wood roofing shingles


Small wood chips or doll house shingles


6 per 12” thickness

Cob at scale thickness (1” thick models 12” thick wall)

Rammed earth

2.5 per 12” thickness

Sliced garden hose, constructed the same as full-size walls, to scale (1” thick models 12” thick wall)

* Canned, aerosol expanding foam should only be used under the supervision of an adult ** Wood siding or plywood sheathing is usually less than one inch thick in most construction applications. Therefore, students will not be able to model this material to scale, because they will need a piece that is only 0.08 inch thick. Therefore, they will have to use the thinnest wood they can find to obtain the correct insulating properties. *** If you are able to get leftover pieces of tar paper or cut roofing shingles, they will be good materials to use to model actual asphalt roofing products on your students’ houses.

Other Considerations ƒThe ƒ cost of materials should be a factor in the design. Provide students a cost list for building supplies you provide. You can either set a maximum budget, or you can add to the challenge by creating a separate competition recognizing the design built at the lowest cost. ƒStudents ƒ may use any transparent materials for their windows. One good material is overhead transparency film. Another using recycled materials is to cut the walls of 2-liter soft drink bottles into sheets. Students can construct double- and triple-paned windows from this material with little difficulty using caulking or clear silicone adhesive to hold them in place in their frame. ƒRepurposed ƒ and recycled materials do not add any cost to their building. Thus, if they use cereal boxes, egg cartons, and similarly clean recycled materials, they are modeling how old products can have new uses. ƒNot ƒ all materials students might want to use are listed in the R-value table. Students can find R-values of other building materials at https://www.archtoolbox.com/materials-systems/thermal-moisture-protection/rvalues.html. ƒSome ƒ materials might need reasonable substitutes in student models. Concrete, for example, can be substituted with ceramic tile or slate tile. ƒEncourage ƒ your students to “think outside the box.” The most efficient spaces that transfer the least amount of thermal energy might not be square or rectangular. ƒThe ƒ insulation and convection activities from NEED’s Building Science unit can be helpful for your students to fully understand how building construction and materials affect the way thermal energy is transferred.


©2018 The NEED Project

Excellent Energy Engineering


Testing Parameters 1. Fill a zip-close sandwich bag with ice and seal. Put this bag inside another bag and seal. Place the bags on the ground floor of the house. 2. Record the temperature of the classroom. 3. After ten minutes, record the temperature in both the lower level as well as the upper level, if appropriate, of the house. If an attic is present, record the temperature of this space. 4. Houses that are the coolest compared to the classroom temperature have the best design for minimizing thermal energy transfer.

Extensions and Enrichment ƒDownload ƒ the Energy Savers booklet, from the U.S. Department of Energy, or explore the website, and use the R-values for walls and roof / attic spaces recommended for your region. You can also contact your local government to find out the building code R-values for homes in your community. ƒPurchase ƒ or borrow a work light or clip-light that is rated to use a 150W incandescent work light. Mount the light above the table such that it stays high enough above the houses to not pose a fire hazard, but does heat up the roof of the houses in a similar way as the sun heats our homes. Be careful to keep combustibles and students’ fingers away from the light as it may become very hot. ƒReverse ƒ the setup for testing if the weather outdoors is cold. Open a handwarmer packet and place it on the floor of the house, and set the houses outside on a cold day. ƒAdvanced ƒ or older students can be challenged to develop a heating or cooling system using fish tank tubing or a similar type of material. They can circulate air or water through their system as desired. If your students do this, the bag of ice or the hand warmer would be placed inside the heat exchanger of the heating or cooling unit. ƒHave ƒ students research alternative building methods such as cob and rammed earth. The tires used in rammed earth construction can be modeled with sliced pieces of garden hose. Building a model cob house can be messy but it will be a lot of fun and help students see how other materials can be used. ƒConduct ƒ a recycling drive to accumulate useful materials for constructing your houses.

©2018 The NEED Project

Excellent Energy Engineering



Plant-based Battery Challenge Plants are amazing organisms. Seeds held in storage for years can be planted and successfully cultivated into new plants. Cutting a piece from a plant and putting it in soil can create a new plant. They have adapted structures to ensure their survival, and we have taken advantage of this by cultivating the fruits and seeds of plants to meet our nutritional needs. We can also use plant materials for other purposes besides food, such as medicines, cleaning solutions, and even making a small battery. This challenge is based on the apple battery from Station Five of NEED’s Science of Energy unit. You can use pieces from your classroom kit, or you can gather new pieces of metals for this activity. Over time, metal pieces may become corroded; rubbing them with some steel wool for a bit will remove this corrosion and help the metal pieces perform better. Included in this guide are directions for using a digital multimeter. However, the microammeter in the Science of Energy kit you may already have will work just fine.

Design Parameters ƒChoose ƒ a vegetable, fruit, or fruit juice to make a simple electrochemical cell, or battery. ƒOnly ƒ one piece of vegetable or fruit, or less than 6 fluid ounces of juice, can be used. ƒOnly ƒ two metal electrodes can be inserted into the battery at any time.

Testing Parameters 1. Push the metal electrodes into the fruit or vegetable, or submerge them in the juice, to a depth of 5 cm. 2. Connect the electrodes to the leads of a digital multimeter using alligator clips. 3. Turn the rotary switch to 200 μA DC. 4. If the display shows a negative number, reverse the alligator clips on the metal electrodes.


V ---





20 2000 m

2000 µ 20 m


2000 K



200K B


10 20K





200 m







hFE 2000



A ---



10A max unfused





1000VDC 200m A max



500V max


5. Find a metal electrode and plant matter combination that produces the most current (Amps).

Teachers’ Cheats ƒQuick ƒ tests in our labs have shown that a thick piece of copper wire and a large nail from the Science of Energy kit will all yield approximately 0.5 V, regardless of the plant material being used. Students may be able to find metal combinations that are higher or lower than this value. Voltage is measured on the 2000 mV DC scale. ƒThe ƒ farther the electrodes are pushed into the fruit or vegetable, or inserted into the juice, the more current will flow. ƒThe ƒ microammeter from Science of Energy Station Five can also be used if you do not have a digital multimeter, but some plant materials may produce current beyond the range of the meter. ƒIf ƒ students are getting no current, ensure the electrodes are not touching inside the plant material. If they are not touching and the meter still reads zero, the plant matter is not acidic enough to use for a battery. ƒOur ƒ tests show that a potato produces approximately 108 μA, a lime 33μA, an apple 39 μA, and lemon juice 1,000 μA or 1 mA when a thick copper wire and large nail are used.


©2018 The NEED Project

Excellent Energy Engineering


Extensions and Enrichment ƒHave ƒ students make several of the same type of plant battery and connect them in series (positive to negative) and in parallel (positive to positive) and compare the voltage and current changes in each connection type. For more information about series and parallel circuits, see NEED’s ElectroWorks unit. ƒHave ƒ students compare the current produced from many different metals, such as copper, zinc, aluminum, iron, and so on. Then provide unknown metal pieces and have them use their data to identify the metal in the unknown. ƒList ƒ the plant material tested by the class on the board in order of high current to low current produced. Allow students to taste the different materials used and ask them what the best battery materials have in common.

Power Up! If your students respond particularly well to the Plant-based Battery Challenge or the Lighta-Bulb Challenge, consider introducing them to the Science of Electricity Model, found here: https://the-need-project.myshopify.com/products/science-of-electricity-model. Students make model generators out of some reasonably common or easy-to-get materials. You can turn this activity into a challenge by having students change the size or shape of the bottle used, the number of magnets in the rotor, and the number of coils of magnet wire used. For sources of magnet wire and other materials, call or email the NEED main office.

©2018 The NEED Project

Excellent Energy Engineering



Solar Oven Challenge Long before we were using photovoltaic cells to generate electricity from the sun, we were using the sun to dry our crops and clothes, warm up our buildings, and heat water. Students likely know the phrase “it was so hot outside, you could fry an egg.” They’ve also probably left candy in a hot car and experienced the melting effect from that solar collector. This challenge asks students to use solar energy and create the best solar collector to heat or cook some food. This activity is based on Solar Oven Challenge, an activity found within NEED’s solar curriculum guides. You can construct the ovens based on this design, using a pre-fabricated pizza box, or you can have students come up with their own design completely from scratch. Essential materials include, cardboard chip tubes or other cardboard, plastic wrap, food, and a thermometer. Additional materials can be provided based on what is available. A list on page 3 provides some inspiration for necessary and suggested materials. It is often fun to provide detractor materials, or materials that may not appear to be useful, as students can work through that challenge to refine their design.

Design Parameters ƒGiven ƒ a chip canister and/or additional teacher approved items, construct an oven to cook or heat food. ƒStudents ƒ opting to use alternative materials must standardize their oven to equal a similar volume of those using chip canisters. ƒConstruction ƒ design must include a flap that opens to allow sunlight to enter. ƒInsulation ƒ may be used, but insulation must be kept to one single layer. ƒInclude ƒ space to allow for thermometers to be inserted.

Testing Parameters 1. Select the food that will be utilized and provide each team with the same amount of food items. Determine the oven temperature you wish for students to achieve. Share this information with students. 2. Place ovens into the open, sunny area of students’ choosing, and on your cue, ask students to place food and thermometers inside to begin cooking. 3. Keep track of the time and students keep track of their temperature to determine which design reaches the temperature in the shortest amount of time, and has cooked the food to the desired doneness.

Teachers’ Cheats ƒSkewers ƒ can be used to prop open an angled awning or flap. Skewers can also be used as a rotisserie mechanism to prop up food. ƒMake ƒ sure to set parameters on oven size that allows for the thermometers to fit inside. ƒDigital ƒ thermometers, while helpful for quick readings, may not work well if the oven needs to be outside for extended periods of time. Often, digital thermometers have automatic shut-off to conserve battery power. ƒSelect ƒ food items that are student-friendly and cook easily based on your climate and the time of year. Food can also be skipped altogether and simply measure temperature. ƒSealing ƒ air leaks will be important in cooler climates. Make sure tape is available for students to use. ƒInsulation ƒ can be effective for cooking in cooler climates.

Extensions and Enrichment ƒHave ƒ a contest to see which design can cook a hot dog to the highest temperature. Provide digital thermometers after allowing ovens to sit for a prescribed amount of time. Spear the hot dogs to determine internal temperature. ƒLimit ƒ the number of materials students may use for construction, i.e. only 6 inches of tape, 1 square foot of foil, etc. ƒIncorporate ƒ budgeting by attributing cost to each material. Add lowest cost to the challenge parameters. ƒAllow ƒ student ovens to be pulled into the shade or a cooler location to determine which design holds its temperature the longest.


©2018 The NEED Project

Excellent Energy Engineering


Engineering and Design Rubric Utilize this rubric to rate and assess student work on engineering and design principles and scientific practices. Depending on the students you are working with and the project selected, you may need to eliminate certain principles and practices, or levels of expectation from your assessment. It may also make sense to add one or more content-based objectives to your rubric to provide a comprehensive assessment. This rubric can be easily adapted to utilize a number rating scale to showcase competency.








• Asks general questions, • Asks testable questions • Asks testable questions • Asks testable questions no evidence required that require evidence that require evidence that require evidence to answer. to answer. to answer. to answer. • Evaluates testability of • Evaluates testability of questions. questions. • Identifies variables. • Defines problem that is not practical or does not match the activity intent.

• Defines problem or design statement that generally matches activity intent and constraints.

• Defines problem or design statement that completely matches activity intent and constraints.

• Defines problem or design statement that completely matches activity intent. • Explains how design will solve problem and addresses constraints.

• Model is relevant. • Discussion of model contains errors or omissions.

• Model is used to evaluate accuracy or limitations of representation of system/process, but contains errors.

• Model is used to evaluate accuracy or limitations of representation of system/process.

• Model is used to evaluate accuracy AND limitations of representation of system/process. • Discussion includes improvement of model.

• Designs investigation that will answer the question, but provides minimal detail. • Proposes design/criteria/intent with minor errors. • Uses appropriate methods. • Collects limited data.

• Designs investigation that answers the questions and describes variables. • Proposes design plan, addressing criteria and intent. • Uses appropriate methods. • Collects multiple data sets.

• Designs detailed investigation that answers the questions and describes variables. • Proposes design plan, addressing criteria and intent with detail. • Uses appropriate methods. • Collects multiple data sets and evaluates accuracy of data collection and methods.

• Designs investigation that will not answer the question. • Proposes design/criteria/intent with errors. PLANNING AND CONDUCTING • Uses inappropriate methods or collects INVESTIGATIONS/TESTING unrelated data. DESIGNS

©2018 The NEED Project


Excellent Energy Engineering




EXPECTATION NOT MET • Organizes data with inaccuracy or missing labels.





APPROACHING EXPECTATION • Organizes, summarizes, and displays data accurately. • Identifies limits and implications with errors.



• Organizes, • Organizes, summarizes, and summarizes, and displays data displays data accurately. accurately using more • Examines relationships than one method. between variables. • Examines relationships • Identifies limits of data between variables. and some implications. • Identifies and evaluates limitations of data, errors, and explains implications.

• Uses or applies • Applies appropriate • Accurately uses inappropriate mathematical concepts appropriate mathematical concepts with minor errors. mathematical with major errors. concepts.

• Accurately uses appropriate mathematical concepts and can explain if the solutions make sense.

• Considered one design. • Uses no data to evaluate and redesign. • Design is incomplete or inappropriate.

• Evaluated several solutions and created design criteria. • Uses adequate data to evaluate and redesign. • Design is appropriate. • Provides a detailed explanation of how data was utilized.

• Evaluated more than one solution or design. • Uses limited or incorrect data to evaluate and redesign. • Design is appropriate.

• Evaluated several solutions and created design criteria. • Uses adequate data to evaluate and redesign. • Design is appropriate. • Provides cursory explanation of how data was utilized.

©2018 The NEED Project

Excellent Energy Engineering


Youth Energy Conference and Awards

Youth Awards Program for Energy Achievement

The NEED Youth Energy Conference and Awards gives students more opportunities to learn about energy and to explore energy in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). The annual June conference has students from across the country working in groups on an Energy Challenge designed to stretch their minds and energy knowledge. The conference culminates with the Youth Awards Ceremony recognizing student work throughout the year and during the conference.

All NEED schools have outstanding classroom-based programs in which students learn about energy. Does your school have student leaders who extend these activities into their communities? To recognize outstanding achievement and reward student leadership, The NEED Project conducts the National Youth Awards Program for Energy Achievement.

For More Info: www.youthenergyconference.org

Share Your Energy Outreach with The NEED Network! This program combines academic competition with recognition to acknowledge everyone involved in NEED during the year—and to recognize those who achieve excellence in energy education in their schools and communities.

What’s involved? Students and teachers set goals and objectives and keep a record of their activities. Students create a digital project to submit for judging. In April, digital projects are uploaded to the online submission site. Want more info? Check out www.NEED.org/Youth-Awards for more application and program information, previous winners, and photos of past events.

©2018 The NEED Project

Excellent Energy Engineering



National Sponsors and Partners Alaska Electric Light & Power Company Albuquerque Public Schools American Electric Power Foundation American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Armstrong Energy Corporation Robert L. Bayless, Producer, LLC BG Group/Shell BP America Inc. Blue Grass Energy Cape Light Compact–Massachusetts Central Alabama Electric Cooperative Chugach Electric Association, Inc. Citgo Clean Energy Collective CLEAResult Clover Park School District Clovis Unified School District Colonial Pipeline Columbia Gas of Massachusetts ComEd ConocoPhillips Constellation Cuesta College David Petroleum Corporation Desk and Derrick of Roswell, NM Direct Energy Dominion Energy, Inc. Dominion Energy Foundation DonorsChoose Duke Energy Duke Energy Foundation East Kentucky Power E.M.G. Oil Properties Energy Trust of Oregon Ergodic Resources, LLC Escambia County Public School Foundation Eversource Exelon Exelon Foundation First Roswell Company Foundation for Environmental Education FPL The Franklin Institute George Mason University – Environmental Science and Policy Gerald Harrington, Geologist Government of Thailand–Energy Ministry Green Power EMC Greenwired, Inc. Guilford County Schools–North Carolina Gulf Power Harvard Petroleum Hawaii Energy Idaho National Laboratory Idaho Power ©2018 The NEED Project www.NEED.org

Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation Illinois International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Renewable Energy Fund Illinois Institute of Technology Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico Inter-County Energy Jackson Energy James Madison University Kansas Corporation Commission Kentucky Department of Energy Development and Independence Kentucky Environmental Education Council Kentucky Power–An AEP Company Kentucky Utilities Company League of United Latin American Citizens – National Educational Service Centers Leidos Let’s GO Boys and Girls, Inc. Linn County Rural Electric Cooperative Llano Land and Exploration Louisville Gas and Electric Company Midwest Wind and Solar Minneapolis Public Schools Mississippi Development Authority–Energy Division Mississippi Gulf Coast Community Foundation Mojave Environmental Education Consortium National Fuel National Grid National Hydropower Association National Ocean Industries Association National Renewable Energy Laboratory NC Green Power Nebraskans for Solar New Mexico Oil Corporation New Mexico Landman’s Association NextEra Energy Resources NEXTracker Nicor Gas Nisource Charitable Foundation Noble Energy Nolin Rural Electric Cooperative Northern Rivers Family Services North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality North Shore Gas Offshore Technology Conference Ohio Energy Project Oklahoma Gas and Electric Energy Corportation Opterra Energy Pacific Gas and Electric Company PECO Pecos Valley Energy Committee Peoples Gas

Pepco Performance Services, Inc. Petroleum Equipment and Services Association Phillips 66 PNM PowerSouth Energy Cooperative Providence Public Schools Quarto Publishing Group Read & Stevens, Inc. Renewable Energy Alaska Project Resource Central Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources Robert Armstrong Roswell Geological Society Salt River Project Salt River Rural Electric Cooperative Sam Houston State University Schlumberger C.T. Seaver Trust Secure Futures, LLC Shelby County RECC Shell Shell Chemical Sigora Solar Singapore Ministry of Education Society of Petroleum Engineers David Sorenson South Kentucky RECC South Orange County Community College District Sports Dimensions Sustainable Business Ventures Corp Taft Union High School District Tesla Tri-State Generation and Transmission TXU Energy United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey University of Kentucky University of Maine University of North Carolina University of Rhode Island University of Tennessee University of Wisconsin – Platteville U.S. Department of Energy U.S. Department of Energy–Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy U.S. Department of Energy–Wind for Schools U.S. Energy Information Administration United States Virgin Islands Energy Office Wayne County Sustainable Energy Western Massachusetts Electric Company Eversource Yates Petroleum Corporation

Profile for NEED Project

Excellent Energy Engineering  

Students are always up for a challenge. Turning a lesson into an engineering and design challenge is a fun way for students to explore a con...

Excellent Energy Engineering  

Students are always up for a challenge. Turning a lesson into an engineering and design challenge is a fun way for students to explore a con...

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