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Smithsonian Science for the Classroom™: How Can We Stay Cool in the Sun? 3-Use Module

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Grade K. Module Highlights: In 10 lessons spanning 14 class sessions, students solve 2 problems caused by sunlight warming surfaces. In lessons 1 through 7, students solve the problem of a playground surface that is too hot to sit on during recess. To better understand the problem, in lessons 2 and 3 students investigate the phenomenon of the warm playground and figure out that sunlight can warm surfaces. In the design challenge (lessons 8 through 10), students work more independently to design a solution to the problem of a person who gets warm while out in sunlight. This module includes a teacher guide, 1 Smithsonian Science Stories big book, 4 Smithsonian Science Stories student readers, and enough materials for 24 students to use 3 times.

Alignment to the Next Generation Science Standards*
Performance Expectations

  • K-2-ETS1-1: Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
  • K-2-ETS1-2: Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
  • K-2-ETS1-3: Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.
  • K-PS3-1: Make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on Earth's surface.
  • K-PS3-2: Use tools and materials provided to design and build a structure that will reduce the warming effect of sunlight on an area.

Disciplinary Core Ideas
ETS1.A: Defining and delimiting engineering problems

  • A situation that people want to change or create can be approached as a problem to be solved through engineering.
  • Asking questions, making observations, and gathering information are helpful in thinking about problems.
  • Before beginning to design a solution, it is important to clearly understand the problem.

ETS1.B: Developing possible solutions

  • Designs can be conveyed through sketches, drawings, or physical models. These representations are useful in communicating ideas for a problem's solutions to other people.

ETS1.C: Optimizing the design solution

  • Because there is always more than one possible solution to a problem, it is useful to compare and test designs.

PS3.B: Conservation of energy and energy transfer

  • Sunlight warms Earth's surface.

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Developing and using models
  • Designing solutions

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Structure and function

Module Objectives

  • Define a problem in which sunlight shining on a person makes the person feel warm.
  • Design a stable portable shade that solves the problem of sunlight causing a person to be warm.

Phenomena and Problems Storyline
Problem: Ada's playground is too hot to sit on.

Students solve the problem: Students investigate the problem; research existing solutions; and design, build, and test model shade devices.
Phenomenon: The playground surface is too hot to sit on.
Students figure out: To better understand the problem, students figure out that a playground surface is warmed by sunlight shining on it.
Lesson 1: Students construct initial explanations about why the playground is hot and discuss how they should approach solving the problem.
Lesson 2: Students ask questions about the hot playground. They evaluate three ways to determine whether one part of a playground surface is warmer or cooler than another: visual inspection, touch, and using a thermometer.
Lesson 3: Students use a model to investigate and compare the effects of lamplight and shaded lamplight on the temperature of a surface. They explain that the unblocked light warms the surface more than the blocked light, and extend their results to explain that sunlight warms Ada's playground surface.
Lesson 4: Students begin to design solutions to the problem. They decide what their devices need to do. They use a text to research and compare existing sunshade solutions to see what shapes are common to stable shade structures.
Lesson 5: Students refine their solution design ideas after exploring the properties of potential building materials.
Lesson 6: Students build prototype sunshade models, test their stability and ability to cast shade, and redesign them as needed based on their preliminary testing.
Lesson 7: Students test their model shades to determine whether they work as intended. They compare all the structures built by their classmates and look for common designs, materials, and shapes.
Design Challenge
Lesson 8:
Students hear about a new problem and reflect back on how they solved the playground problem. They compare their process to a story about engineers designing a shade plan for a zoo exhibit. They begin to define the problem of Ada getting hot in sunlight.
Lesson 9: Students ask questions about Ada's situation and compare it to their previous investigations, so they can define the problem. They research existing solutions and brainstorm ways to use the available materials to design a portable shade device.
Lesson 10: Students build their portable shade devices, test to see if their device can be used while crossing the room, and compare the shapes and stability of all the designs.

*Next Generation Science Standards® is a registered trademark of WestEd. Neither WestEd nor the lead states and partners that developed the Next Generation Science Standards were involved in the production of this product, and do not endorse it.


What’s Included:
  • How Can We Stay Cool in the Sun? Teacher Guide
  • 1 Smithsonian Science Stories Literacy Series™: Keeping Cool at the Zoo Big Book
  • 4 Smithsonian Science Stories Literacy Series™: Keeping Cool at the Zoo Reader
  • 1 Digital Access to Teacher Guide and Student Literacy (for 24 students)
  • 3 Air Line Tubing, 25 ft
  • 2 Bags, Cotton Drawstring
  • 4 Bookends, Small, Nonslip Base
  • 2 Card Sets, Portable Shade
  • 36 Card Sets, Shade Solutions
  • 1 Card Set, Vocabulary
  • 4 Card Sets, Warmer or Colder
  • 120 Chipboard, Fine, 8-1/2 x 11"
  • 2 Clamp Lamps, with Reflector (without bulb)
  • 150 Clothespins, Wood
  • 250 Counters, Clear Plastic
  • 450 Craft Sticks, Wood
  • 9 Fabric, Poly-Cotton, Yellow
  • 1 Foam Pad, Black, 9 x 12 x 1/4"
  • 4 Hand Warmers, Mini
  • 2 Lightbulbs, 72-W Eco, Soft White
  • 2 Pail Lids, for 1-qt Pail
  • 2 Pails, Plastic, 1 qt
  • 300 Paper Clips, Jumbo
  • 150 Paper, Construction, Assorted Colors, 9 x 12"
  • 500 Pipe Cleaners, White, 30 cm (12")
  • 300 Plates, Paper, 9"
  • 1 Tape, Measuring, 150 cm/60"
  • 5 Thermometers, LCD, Self-Adhesive
Return Policy:

If for any reason you are not satisfied with this item, it is eligible for a return, exchange, refund, or credit up to 180 days from date of purchase. Restrictions may apply. Returns & Exchanges Policy.