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Unit Rate through Solar Cars

Students will explore electrical engineering and finding unit rate by building solar panel toy cars and racing them over two courses, calculating unit rate to compare speeds.  Students will also explore why the angle of the solar panel makes cars go faster. (more…)

Wind Turbines and Proportions

After briefly learning about wind turbines and how they generate power for the grid, students will create their own windmills in class. Students will then apply ratio reasoning to figure out how many homes (on average) a windmill can power. How do wind turbines get power into our homes? How many homes can a wind turbine power?

Windmills and Ratios



Solving Equations Using Ohm’s Law

Students should have already been introduced to solving equations; this lesson is meant to further their understanding and contextualize giving real-life examples of when they would need to solve equations.  This is a 1 day lesson.

  1. Student will be able to substitute values for the variables in Ohm’s Law, V-IR
  2. Student will be able to solve for a missing variable in Ohm’s Law, V=IR
  3. Student will have very basic understanding of what an electrical engineer does

Ohm’s Law


Solving for Variables

Students will have to watch the video and read the online articles first to get an idea of how a wind turbine works, what kinetic energy, Betz Limit, power coefficient, wind speed, mass flow rate, energy flow rate, tip speed, and rotational speed is. Next, they will have to make some calculations to fill out a chart for the tip speed, the power coefficient, the amount of power, and the amount of energy for each given time and wind speed.  They will have to interpret a chart in order to determine the power coefficient.

Solving for Variables

Applications of Cosine Curves

Students will have to read the assigned articles and video first to get an idea of what a power factor, watt, and the power grid is.  Next, they will conduct an experiment of three different light bulbs to determine what their power factor is, the temperature, and the amount of watts being used.  The students will have to learn how to use a device safely to record all of this. They will have to determine which lightbulb is the most effective for the power grid. Once the students have learned about the power factor, they should use their prior knowledge to graph a cosine function.

Applications of Cosine Curves

Applications for Sine Curve

Students will understand that there has to be exactly enough power on the grid for what is being used by consumers after watching the assigned videos and reading the assigned articles.  Students will use their knowledge of how to recognize and construct sine functions to determine how frequency, amplitude, and DC offset will change what a light bulb does.  They will conduct an experiment that will show the effects on two different light bulbs.  The class will use their discoveries to discuss how this experiment relates to the sine function and real-life situations. They should address how our world would be affected if we had a power outage.

Applications for Sine Curve

Sagging Power Lines

Students will apply their knowledge of arc length, sector area, segment of a circle area formula, unit conversions, and the Pythagorean Theorem to assess whether the giraffes as the Knoxville Zoo are safe from the sagging power lines overhead.  They will watch a YouTube video about the cause for sagging power lines and will then complete the worksheet attached.  This will guide them to answer the question: Are the Giraffes Safe?

Lesson Plan Sagging Power Line

Exploring Engineering

In this lesson, students will explore various career fields (specifically various types of engineering).  They will answer questions to help them find their passion and use that to consider what career field they may want to pursue.  Students will draw a connection between what the content in Geometry and the job descriptions of several different types of engineers.  They will also draw a connection between engineering careers and the power grid.

Lesson Plan Exploring Engineering


Reviewing Regression Models

Students will create regression models to demonstrate the trends in coal production in Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky, and Tennessee based on provided data.  They will use this model to predict when coal production will cease in these areas.  The class will discuss as a whole why this model may not accurately represent the data for an extended period of time. We will also discuss if coal plants are essential for stability on the grid and if coal plants will ever cease to exist entirely.  A reading will be provided to help students make their own conclusions about the future of coal.

Lesson Plan Coal Regression

Systems of Equations: Energy and Engineering Trends

Students will examine energy trends to explore why energy efficiency is an important current area of focus. They will also look at current trends in engineering domestically (demographics). They will use the systems to model different scenarios to alter trends.

Students will open with a discussion of the lightbulb activity…why is it important to conserve energy? Will discuss on an individual level, then go to a global context. Students will watch a clip from “Do the Math” (350.org) where they will see the trend of CO2 levels.

Systems of Equations: Energy and Engineering Trends