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This inquiry-based curriculum unit for Grades 1-3 introduces children to basic concepts of solar energy. It is noteworthy because the developers approach energy as a physical science concept, rather than as a fuel or source of power. Learners conduct investigations with live plants, UV detection beads, light sensitive paper, a radiometer, glow toys, and solar balloons. They explore how the sun produces light energy that can be collected and converted into other energy forms. The culminating activity is the design, building, and testing of a solar oven. The resource provides lesson plans, warm-up questions, detailed lab procedures, and classroom presentation materials for teaching an entire unit. The NEED Project is a national initiative to bring innovative curriculum materials in energy education to teachers and learners from the primary grades through college. Editor's Note A pre-assembled kit is available from NEED for $200, or teachers can buy their own materials from science supply stores -- $100 will serve a class of 30 students.
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