Students explore the many different ways that engineers provide natural lighting to interior spaces. They analyze various methods of daylighting by constructing model houses from foam core board and simulating the sun with a desk lamp. Teams design a daylighting system for their model houses based on their observations and calculations of the optimal use of available sunlight to their structure.
Students explore heat transfer and energy efficiency using the context of energy efficient houses. They gain a solid understanding of the three types of heat transfer: radiation, convection and conduction, which are explained in detail and related to the real world. They learn about the many ways solar energy is used as a renewable energy source to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses and operating costs. Students also explore ways in which a device can capitalize on the methods of heat transfer to produce a beneficial result. They are given the tools to calculate the heat transferred between a system and its surroundings.
Through an introduction to the design of lighting systems and the electromagnetic spectrum, students learn about the concept of daylighting as well as two types of light bulbs (lamps) often used in energy-efficient lighting design.
Students learn about the advantages and disadvantages of the greenhouse effect. They construct their own miniature greenhouses and explore how their designs take advantage of heat transfer processes to create controlled environments. They record and graph measurements, comparing the greenhouse indoor and outdoor temperatures over time. Students are also introduced to global issues such as greenhouse gas emissions and their relationship to global warming.
Using a household fan, cardboard box and paper towels, student teams design and build their own evaporative cooler prototype devices. They learn about the process that cools water during the evaporation of water. They make calculations to determine a room's cooling load, and thus determine the swamp cooler size. This activity adds to students' understanding of the behind-the-scenes mechanical devices that condition and move air within homes and buildings for human health and comfort.