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Solar Media Production


  • Project TitleSolar Media Production
  • ThemeSolar Energy
  •  /project212_0599/solarpanelsmovie.jpg
  • Submitted ByChristine Kiraly-Thomas and Kimberly Spock
  • OrganizationQuaboag Regional Middle/High School
  • Brief DescriptionStudents will study the science behind solar energy by building and using solar cookers. They will also learn about the need for solar cookers in African villages and the benefits of using the sun for an energy source.
    Students (after school program) will also research the use of solar energy in the community (including their school) and create a mini-documentary of what they learned. The documentary will be posted on Youtube as well as the district web site to educate the community about the benefits of using this renewable energy source.
  • Materials / ResourcesSolar energy education kit (Company: Silicon Solar, EduSol Intro Series, DEMOKIT Solar Kit, website:
    lamps with 100 watt bulbs

    To Build Solar Cookers (have students bring as many materials as possible from home.):
    duct tape
    cardboard box
    black construction paper
    black paint (water based)
    paint brushes
    aluminum Foil
    small Dixie cups
    thermometers (oven thermometer (Celsius units))
    box cutter (closely supervised)

    Optional (to cook s`mores):
    Graham crackers
    milk chocolate bars

    To create video production:
    index cards
    extension cords
    computers with software


    Web Link:

  • Team membersChristine Kiraly Thomas
    Kimberly Spock
  • Pre-requisite knowledgen/a
  • Technical support neededGood working partnership with technology department. We used their Mac computers for the editing and DVD production

Key Questions

  • Key QuestionsHow does solar energy work?
    What are the benefits of using the sun`s energy as an energy source?
    How can radiant energy be transformed into energy that we use every day?
  • Connections: How or why was this topic identified? Why is it meaningful?There was a need to communicate to the community the benefits of installing solar energy panels on the roofs of all the schools in the district.
  • Background Research: What resources were used to find background information for this project?Websites:
    Telegram and Gazette, Jan 8, 2011 "Solar Quest"; Jan 7, 2011, "Quaboag School District Plans Shift to Solar"
    We took full advantage of our faculty`s expertise by having guest speakers such as the high school physics, graphic arts, and technology teachers address our production team. We also had full support during interviews from the Budget Director and Superintendent of our district.


    Web Link:

    Web Link:

  • Outcomes: What was the outcome? How was it shared or applied in the community?A Youtube video was created where students shared what they have learned about solar energy and the benefits of installing solar panels on the school`s roofs. The video is on the District`s web page. The two town`s that make up the regional district are both playing the video on their access channel.

Units / Activities

  • Unit 1Solar Energy - Introduction

    Day 1 - Powerpoint - Solar energy -Student will learn about solar energy and how this energy can be converted into electricity and heat.

    Day 2 - Students will explore how photovoltaic cells convert radiant energy into electrical energy/kinetic energy using solar energy educational kits.
    Day 1: powerpoint Day 2: lab

    View/Download File: /project212_0599/Solar Energy.pptx

    View/Download File: /project212_0599/Photovoltaic Cells Lab.docx

  • Unit 2Designing and constructing a solar cooker.
    Day 1: Students are introduced to project by watching National geographic Youtube video on solar cooking.
    Day 2: Students will brainstorm and develop three potential designs for their solar cookers. Students will choose one design, make a materials list and determine who will bring in what materials.
    Day 3-6: Students will construct their solar cookers.
    Day 7: Students will test their design by seeing which solar cooker was able to boil 10 mL of water in a dixie cup first. (Make it a fun competition!)
    Day 8: Discuss the results of competition as a class. Students will answer questions, evaluate their design of their solar cooker and recommend improvements to their design.
    Day 1 - National Geographic Solar Cooking Youtube video Day 2 - Handout Brainstorming and Design Day 3 - Solar Cooker Project description and rubric, Solar cooker Lab Day 8 - Questions and Evaluation of Solar Design

    View/Download File: /project212_0599/Brainstorming and Design Solar Cooker.docx

    View/Download File: /project212_0599/Solar Cooker Project.docx

    View/Download File: /project212_0599/Solar Cooker Rubric.docx

    View/Download File: /project212_0599/Solar Cooker Lab Sheet.docx

    View/Download File: /project212_0599/Questions....Evaluation of Design.docx

    Web Link:

  • Unit 3Solar Media Production - After school program
    Day 1/Week 1: Students meet for first meeting and form team. Production team goal defined per grant Green in the Middle. Students receive local newspaper articles pertaining to local solar efforts. End of meetng students break out to science lab to make solar fans.
    Day 2/Week 2: Students met in computer lab. In pairs, students take turns listening to a documentary to identify what sounds are important and how they are captured while the other student identified the type of camera shots were used.
    Day 3/Week 3: Students received and reviewed Key Process Overview form. Students "brainstormed" tasks to complete, grouped tasks into like areas. Four task groups were formed and students signed up for the subgroups. (team leader assigned for each group-primary role was the point of contact). Prior to Week 4, create a calendar where students commit to timeframes.
    Week 4-6: Meeting times for all groups have increased to 2 times a week. Identify and sequence "key messages using 3x5 cards. Assign media to each key message. Create detailed outline and script for each segment. Produce shot list. During this time students practice shooting with camera, primarily outside shots.
    Week 7-8: Field trip to district elementary school. Neighboring Fire Department meets us there with ladder truck. Students shoot solar panels while in ladder bucket. Second field trip to Orchard to conduct interview with owner who runs orchard`s electrical needs from farm`s solar panels.
    Week 9: Edit and produce final product.
    Week 10: Evaluate production. Solar Media Production Team celebration!
    Day 3/Week 3: Green in the Middle (GIM), Solar Energy Use at QRMHS Media Production Process Overview Finished Product: Solar Panels for Quaboag, Going Green Cougar Style

    View/Download File: /project212_0599/Green in the Middle process overview outline.doc

    Web Link:

Instructional Techniques

  • JournalingUnit 2 -Day 1: Designing and constructing a solar cooker.
    Show the National Geographic Youtube video Solar Cooking (It is your hook)Prior to watching the video, put on the board some questions. Questions should include: What are solar cookers, what do they look like? Where are solar cookers being used and why? Besides cooking, why else are solar cookers used? What are the benefits of cooking food with a solar cooker vs. fire?

    After students watched the video, have them write in their journal what they learned. Emphasize that their reflection should include answers to these questions.

    After students finish writing in their journal, ask students to share what they have learned/written.

    Web Link:

  • Research/Brainstorming/ Group WorkStudents conducted research about the different types of solar cookers. (Reference the attached PBS website) After they did some research, students brainstormed in groups and developed three possible designs. They chose one of their designs to construct. Groups documented in their engineering log daily what their group accomplished. Students constructed their solar cookers in groups.

    Web Link:

  • Project-based Learning (Media Production)The project incorporated the solar/renewable energy concepts and allowed the students to chart their own course and deliver a media production to communicate to the community why solar made sense at Quaboag Middle High School. The media production team melded the concepts and skills learned in the science classroom, researched key messages, did a cost analysis, wrote storyboards and scripts, filmed, and edited to reach the final product.

    Web Link:

  • BrainstormingFor students to begin owning their project, they had to identify what tasks were to be accomplished. The "Media Production Process Overview" was reviewed. Students then brainstormed and identified the tasks. Once the tasks were identified the students grouped them into "like" areas for a total of four groups. The students then committed to one or more of the groups.
  • Collaboration, Interaction and SharingEach student worked within one or more of the groups. Each group had a point of contact(POC). The POC for each team provided a smooth transition of information as much of the information overlapped from one team to another. The one comment students all agreed upon at the completion of the project was, "working as a team" was essential to the success of the production.
  • Research/Data CollectionOne of the groups were responsible for the researching and writing the content for the media production. The range of information spanned from a technical aspect necessary for filming/editing, researching solar/renewable energy, and to the cost savings for the district. Information was written on 3x5 cards which became the basis for the "key messages". This was an easy format for the students to sequentially order the messages and to also assign a media to each key message.
  • Guest SpeakersBring in the experts! The physics and technology/graphic arts teacher, along with the Superintendent spoke to the class as a whole. This communicated the "intent" of the project to all and not a specific group. We also had an audio engineer work with one of the groups during the filming/interviewing process.
  • Storyboarding/Graphic OrganizerThis was essential to chart each area of the production. This provided a means to map a detailed outline and script for each segment. Storyboards included the media used.
  • Open Forum DiscussionsOnce each week all groups met for a short duration. We were able to share the progress of each group and contribute individual concerns. This also became a time to "trouble shoot" areas of concern.
  • InterviewingSeveral of the students were tasked to conduct interviews. Interviewing techniques and questions were reviewed and practiced prior to any interview.
  • Hands on ActivityThe majority of the production was "hands-on". This became the "hook" in some cases. The most difficult part of the project was to conduct the research to support the production. When the students got to a certain point in the research, an activity was planned to break up the monotomy,i.e.practice using the cameras.
  • Peer Editing/ReviewThere was constant editing throughout the filming for both audio and video. Editing became a group tasking. There were times while writing the rap for the documentary, those who were responsible had writer`s block. We all put in a collective effort and somehow it all came together.
  • Song/RapThis was totally unplanned! This came about after the first kick-off meeting. What the "Solar Rap" did for the team as a whole, was to include those students who likely would never had participated in a technical based project. This was a win-win for all!

Assessment Techniques

  • Project Based Rubric/ Formative assessmentStudents will be assessed two ways in this project. The first way is based on the attached rubric. Students are assessed based on the performance of their solar cooker, the completion of an engineering log, the design and construction of their solar cooker and group work.

    The second assessment is a formative assessment. Students will answer questions. Prior to answering questions have students meet with their group members and evaluate their design. They should brainstrom about what possible improvements they could make. Before students meet as a group, review the steps of the engineering design process. Point out what step they are at (evaluation of test results) and that typically this step is followed by a redesign.

    Note: Question 5 should be worth more points (what improvements would you make to your solar cooker and why).

    View/Download File: /project212_0599/Questions....Evaluation of Design.docx

    View/Download File: /project212_0599/Solar Cooker Rubric.docx

  • Youtube HitsThe students had to evaluate whether or not their media production met its goal; communicate to the community how solar energy benefits Quaboag Regional Middle High School. We decided to record and track the "hits" on the Youtube site and any comments of "like" or "dislike".

Frameworks / Skills

  • Math Frameworks (7-8)
    Compare, order, estimate, and translate among integers, fractions and mixed numbers (i.e., rational numbers), decimals, and percents.8.N.2
    (Math Frameworks (7-8))
  • Math Frameworks (7-8)
    Use ratios and proportions in the solution of problems, in particular, problems involving unit rates, scale factors, and rate of change.
    (Math Frameworks (7-8))
  • Math Frameworks (7-8)
    Estimate and compute with fractions (including simplification of fractions), integers, decimals, and percents (including those greater than 100 and less than 1).
    (Math Frameworks (7-8))
  • Math Frameworks (7-8)
    Determine when an estimate rather than an exact answer is appropriate and apply in problem situations.
    (Math Frameworks (7-8))

Tags = construction-design | service-learning | media | green-in-middle | Subject = Mathematics, Science, Arts, Technology, CVTE, career, Service_Learning | Grade Level = MS | Time Period = School Year | Program/Funding = |
Direct website link to this project: