Some activities are perfect for exploring the 4Cs of Success: Critical Thinking, Communication, Creativity, and Collaboration, and our Energy-Conscious Buildings activity is one of them. It is a great example of how iSchool for the Future combines Creative STEM Programming with 21st Century Life Skills. In this activity, children must collaborate in teams to decide upon and achieve a common goal of building a house that looses the least amount of energy. Communication between teams members is key, and is the primary area where the teachers assist teams as we circulate. Because supplies are limited, children must think critically about their use of resources and must critically analyze their designs and their houses to identify energy losses. The activity is open-ended, without right or wrong, and thus a variety of creative designs are encouraged. This is just one of many examples of how we effectively combine science content, Life Skills, and hands-on opportunities in all of our programs.
In addition to the hands-on building aspect of this lesson, we also use innovative technologies, such as “Thermal” imaging apps on smartphones and tablets. We are honest with the children in explaining that these apps measure light energy, and not actual heat energy, but the apps are still good for visualizing energy loss from a home and identifying areas where the buildings need to be improved. Plus, they make for some cool images! You can continue the learning at home by downloading and installing free apps such as the Fingersoft Thermal Camera.
The app helps students identify areas in their homes that need to be improved. The photos above are the same house, before and after improvements. After identifying that the edges of the house were a source of energy loss, the students fortified them. Plus they added a roof!
This activity is also a springboard for learning about light and its properties. Here are some resources to help kids learn about light:
- An introduction to light
- In depth information about the Electromagnetic Spectrum, written for older kids
- A clip from a Bill Nye video on light refraction
- A 20-minute Bill Nye video on light
Want your children to collaborate, create, communicate, and think critically while having fun building energy-conscious buildings? Register for one of our programs!