OpenSciEd®: Physics 1: Energy Flow from Earth's Systems 1-Class Unit Kit


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Physics. In Physics 1: Energy Flow from Earth's Systems, Carolina Certified Version*, students work to answer the Unit Driving Question: "How can we design more reliable systems to meet our communities' energy needs?"

This unit is anchored by the Texas power crisis of February 2021. Students read articles and wonder about the complex social, environmental, and physical realities that led to such a crisis. In Lesson Set 1 (Lessons 1-8), students figure out how energy transfers between systems, from a generator to our communities, and what makes an energy source reliable. By the end of this lesson set, students can model and explain what happened in Texas at multiple scales, from the electrons in the wires to the power companies making difficult decisions to maintain stability. In Lesson Set 2 (Lessons 9-11), students consider engineering tradeoffs, criteria, and constraints inherent in making decisions about our energy systems, and apply them in a culminating task: they design a reliable energy solution that meets community needs, as articulated by interviews with friends and family members. The task is designed to give students the tools to speak up in their local and global community for a better energy future, one that aligns with their own values, and those of their families.

Throughout the unit, students:

  • Develop and use both physical and conceptual models related to our energy transfer systems, including a small wired city that is powered by a homemade generator, energy transfer diagrams that include field interactions, and a computational spreadsheet model to test out design solutions against criteria for success.
  • Use simulations to model and understand particle and field interaction in and around a wire, and to investigate the impact of changing certain variables on energy transfer through the wire.
  • Analyze, synthesize, and interpret data about what happened in Texas in February 2021, highlighting an imbalance in energy inputs and outputs, and using the correlation coefficient to disprove a hypothesis.
  • Obtain and communicate information about energy flow, electricity, engineering, and power outages from a variety of different kinds of texts.
  • Define a design problem and develop design solutions related to the use of Earth's resources for electricity production and energy storage based on prioritized criteria and tradeoffs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.

This 1-Class Unit Kit comes with basic teacher access to instructional materials on, plus the materials needed for a teacher to teach 1 class of 32 students per day.

Building Toward NGSS Performance Expectations (PEs)

  • HS-PS2-5**: Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that an electric current can produce a magnetic field and that a changing magnetic field can produce an electric current.
  • HS-PS3-5†: Develop and use a model of two objects interacting through electric or magnetic fields to illustrate the changes in energy of the objects due to the interaction.
  • HS-PS3-2†: Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted for as a combination of energy associated with the motion of particles (objects) and energy associated with the relative positions of particles (objects).
  • HS-PS3-3: Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy.
  • HS-PS3-1†: Create a computational model to calculate the change in the energy of one component in a system when the change in energy of the other component(s) and energy flows in and out of the system are known.
  • HS-ETS1-3†: Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
  • HS-ETS1-4†: Use a computer simulation to model the impact of proposed solutions to a complex real-world problem with numerous criteria and constraints on interactions within and between systems relevant to the problem.
  • HS-ESS3-2†: Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.
**This performance expectation is developed across multiple OpenSciEd units. This unit reinforces these NGSS PEs in a physics context.
†This performance expectation is developed across multiple OpenSciEd courses. This unit reinforces or works toward these NGSS PEs that students will have previously developed in the OpenSciEd chemistry and/or biology courses.

Focal Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs)

  • Asking Questions and Defining Problems
  • Developing and Using Models
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Focal Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs)

  • ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
  • ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions
  • PS2.B: Types of Interactions
  • PS3.A: Definitions of Energy
  • PS3.B: Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer
  • PS3.C: Relationship Between Energy and Forces
  • ESS3.A: Natural Resources

Focal Crosscutting Concepts

  • Systems and System Models
  • Energy and Matter
  • Stability and Change

WARNING: Kit includes neodymium magnets, which have a very strong magnetic field. Use with caution. Seek immediate medical attention if magnet is swallowed.

*All enhancements to materials and instruction for this Carolina Certified Version of the unit are approved by OpenSciEd® to preserve the integrity of the storyline and the instructional model.


What’s Included:
  •  Unit Technology Pack (basic digital access to teacher's guide and all instructional resources for the teacher)
  •  Batteries, Alkaline, Size D
  •  Card Sets, Energy Source
  •  Clip Leads, 14"
  •  Compasses, Magnetic
  •  DC Hand Generator
  •  Digital Multimeter
  •  Dissected Power Strips
  •  Dry-Erase Marker Sets, Expo®
  •  Generators, AC Micro Motor Model
  •  Kite String, 400 yd
  •  Labels, Round, 1/4", Assorted Colors
  •  LED Bulbs, Red
  •  Light Bulbs, Grain of Wheat
  •  Nail Polish, Bottle
  •  Nails, 12D
  •  Neodymium Magnets, 1/2 x 1/4"
  •  Note Pads, Self-Adhesive, Yellow, 3 x 3"
  •  Putty, Adhesive, 2 oz
  •  Sandpaper, 2 x 2"
  •  Screwdriver, Triwing
  •  Single D Battery Holders
  •  Tape, Electrical, Roll
  •  Tape, Masking, 1" wide, 36-yd Roll
  •  Tubes, Cardboard, 5 x 15 cm
  •  Whiteboards, Mini
  •  Wire Cutter/Stripper
  •  Wire, Enameled, 28 AWG, 250-ft Rolls
  •  Yarn, Acrylic, Red, Skein
  •  Yarn, Cotton, Green, Skein
  •  Yarn, Wool, Blue, Skein
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.