Understanding Electricity with Photovoltaics
Lesson Objective: Students explore electricity through the use of photovoltaic cells
Grade 6 / Science / Electricity

Thought starters

  1. Why is it important for students to identify the learning target at the beginning of the lesson?
  2. What strategies does Ms. Levine use to encourage student discussion?
  3. How does Ms. Levine extend the lesson so that students see a connection to their lives?
Me parece muy buen video.
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As a former physics/physical science teacher, I am enamored with this lesson! I love the fact that you used a solar panel to power electronics in the room. Big kudos to Ms. Levine
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I really enjoyed this video. I would like to set up a similar presentation, where do we purchase photovoltaic cells, and solar panels?
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Jean! Thanks for your feedback. I was able to get a set of small 1.5 V panels (and some curriculum) from Solar 4 Schools. You can also order them from KidWind, or Educational Innovations. You may also be able to get them from a local hobby shop.
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  • Jessica Levine Script v1

    (CHUCKLE) Hi. I'm Jessica Levine, and I teach Sixth Grade Science at Xti Middle School

    Jessica Levine Script v1

    (CHUCKLE) Hi. I'm Jessica Levine, and I teach Sixth Grade Science at Xti Middle School in Seattle, Washington. And, today, my great lesson idea is understanding electricity through photovoltaics.

    Today, when students enter the classroom, they'll get their science journal, which is a regular routine in our class. They'll title and date it and put their "I can" statement at the top, which is sort of our learning target.

    What is the “I can statement of the day?”

    Student "I can apply my understanding of electricity to solar cells.”

    What is a solar cell? What is photovoltaic?

    Today we’re going to teach electricity through photovoltaics, and students are going to have a hands on opportunity to apply their understanding of electrical current.

    “Anyone remember what volts refers to? Ella?”
    Student -“The pressure inside of a cell or an electron”
    “Sure, and what do we mean by pressure anyone else have another way to say it?”
    Student -“How many are flowing through”
    And, now, we're at the part where we're trying to figure out how electricity is flowing and what it is in order to light up light bulbs-- power small motors-- and see how connecting different power sources in series and in parallel in different circuits-- will have different effects on those light bulbs or on those motors. On some of your desks you have a model of the sun, Coby what is the model of the sun we are going to use today?

    Student- “The lamp”
    “The lamp, and because it’s not currently sunny outside we need to plug them in, and that means we need to share. So I would like to see conversations, I would like to see you writing and drawing in your science journal so that your responding to each of those things…”
    (Classroom Noise)
    So working in table teams, students will have an opportunity to work together as scientists, and, so, some of the things that we'll be looking for today is students to really get excited about using photovoltaics in the classroom and given that the Seattle weather is kind of grey and rainy, I'll be looking for students to be excited about modeling-- the sun with the lamp system and knowing that they can-- apply that understanding, and see the big picture of it.
    “When you connected them in series what happened to the bullpin?”
    “It increased it to 3”
    “It increased it to 3 volts good, nice team work.”
    And I'm also going to be looking for a couple of students-- to be able to see that the flow of electrons is really from the negative terminal to the positive one.
    (Classroom Noise)
    “Can you explain why when you change the terminals the motor turned in the other direction?”
    Student responds (Cant understand what she says)
    (Classroom interaction)

    I think I measure student engagement with those ah-ha moments, and it's one of the joys of being a science teacher is kids are really getting that wow of out of things.
    One of the challenges in finding an opportunity to work with photovoltaics is-- purchasing and acquiring those photovoltaic cells. But, once I was able to find a few of them it became an opportunity of teaching students to become not only science literate students but become sustainably savvy. I want them to know that the science they are studying has greater applications for their future and the future of the planet. As spring is developing more in Seattle, and we’ll have more access to sunlight that we’ll be able to use the gains from the solar panels to power and offset our electrical means in the classroom and the kids can monitor the amps and the voltage changes as we move the solar panels around.
    Student-“I definitely felt like a scientist today because we had the materials here to find out things that maybe the text book wouldn’t be able to tell us.”
    Student-“Hands on experience is the best way to learn.”
    Student-“It helps to understand what we’re doing and how stuff works”
    The joy and the benefits of seeing students apply their knowledge, have a tangible application for it and know that the work that they're doing in science is gonna make a difference in their lives, and the lives of others, is pretty phenomenal.

School Details

Eckstein Middle School
3003 NE 75 St
Seattle WA 98115
Population: 882

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Jessica Levine



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