The scope of The Solar Spark is relevant to various areas of the school curriculum including Science, Geography, Citizenship and Design and Technology. For information on these areas, explore The Science sections of this site.
Some brief ways in which the information on this site links to the school curriculum are outlined below. For a more in-depth overview for how solar energy and renewables can be integrated into the curriculum in England and Wales, check out the article by Dr Ashley Green, a freelance STEM Educator with a passion for renewable energy education and many years of solar energy research under his belt. For specific links between the classroom experiments listed on this website and the curriculum in Scotland, have a look at the document compiled by the Chemistry Education Support Officer for the Scottish Schools Education Research Centre (SSERC).
Embedding Renewable Energy in the Curriculum by Dr Ashley Green and David Garlovsky, project director of the Schools & Homes Energy Education Project/Solar-Active (note: this article has been tailored towards the education system for England and Wales)
Links to the Curriculum – Scotland by Chris Lloyd, Chemistry Education Support Officer for the Scottish Schools Education Research Centre (SSERC) (note: this article is specific to the education system in Scotland)
Scientific concepts relevant to solar and renewable energy:
- Electricity: circuits, current, voltage.
- Types of energy and energy conversion.
- The environment: environmental processes and issues.
- Electromagnetc spectrum: wavelength, energy.
- Scientific design of materials.
- Sustainability in new scientific developments.
- How human activities and natural processes lead to changes in the environment.
How this area relates to How Science Works:
- How science affects us outside the classroom.
- How science informs decisions made by individuals, communities and governments.
- Using data from various primary and secondary sources.
- The ethical and moral implications of science.
- Science research as a future career.
- Debating on scientific ideas – using research to formulate arguments e.g in renewable energy issues.
- The local and global contexts of science
- The developments of science both current and through history, how it affects us and how it is communicated.
- How a creative application of science can lead to a change in lifestyles.
Concepts related to solar and renewable energy:
- How places are connected through environmental, political, economic and social issues.
- How natural process and humans activities affect things around us.
- How physical processes and humans act together to influence the environment.
- Sustainable development and climate change
- Current issues in everyday lives.
- Physical geography – the weather, geology, tides etc related to using it as renewable energy sources.
- Human geogrpahy – built and managed environments and human processes and how they affect the environment.
- Managing the future impact of human and physical processes and activites.
The debate on renewable energy and climate change:
- How rights compete with each other and hard decisions have to be made.
- The energy needs of different communitites in the UK and around the world.
- Is it fair or unfair that other countries or other generations suffer from climate change when they didn’t cause it?
- How important is the role of laws in enforcing environmental solutions.
- Understanding the different view points on climate change and renewable energy solutions.
- Debating, discussing, arguing and communicating different opinions and voting on them.
- Using scientific research as evidence.
- Local and national disagreements e.g. NIMBY.
- Current environmental issues and political problems.
- How the UK, Europe and the world are working together to deal with the issues.
- The impact of actions on communities world-wide now, and in the future.
- How to create approaches to problems and issues.
- The needs of local communities.
- How economic decisions are made and where money is spent.
- Freedom of speech.
- The role of media in influencing public opinion or communicating information.
- The actions of individuals, groups and organisations can take to influence decisions.
Design and Technology
Production of solar and renewable energy devices can illustrate the use of materials and designs of devices and production processes to make them:
- environmentally friendly
- socially acceptable
- fit for purpose
The topic also covers:
- How quality of life for third world might be affected.
- Changes in design of solar cells (past and future) depending on needs, available materials and change in lifestyle.
- Tackling existing problems with innovative solar cells.
- Importance of technological advances for designing new solutions e.g. the mobile phones of computing.
- How to use materials, smart materials, technology and aesthetic qualities to design and make worthwhile products.
- The criteria used to judge the quality of products, their impact and their sustainability.
- The wider issues influencing design, material selection, construction and product development
PSHE – science as a career.
History – the effect of the Industrial Revolution on the planet.