Hydropower generation is introduced to students as a common purpose and benefit of constructing dams. Through an introduction to kinetic and potential energy, students come to understand how a dam creates electricity. They also learn the difference between renewable and non-renewable energy.
The lessons in this unit were developed by teachers at Souhegan High School for junior/senior level Physics classes, to be taught during the first trimester of the 2016-17 school year. This unit culminates with small groups of students presenting their plans for the ideal power grid for the state of New Hampshire. While the anchor text and performance assessment may be specific to New Hampshire, texts specific to other regions are likely accessible through state universities, government websites and/or local publications, making this unit highly adaptable.
Working in groups, students look at three different villages in various parts of Africa and design economically viable engineering solutions to answer the energy needs of the off-the-grid small towns, given limited budgets. Each village has different nearby resources, both renewable and nonrenewable. Student teams conduct research, make calculations, consider the options and create plans, which they present to the class. Through their investigations and planning of custom solutions for each locale, they experience the real-world engineering research and analysis steps of the engineering design process.