Science Sampler: Solar Panels and alternative energy in the eighth-grade classroomby: Laura Bruck

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In this solar panels and alternative energy project, students were challenged to develop a researchable question about solar energy and electronics and devise a means of answering it. Students worked cooperatively, with specific roles for each member, conducting research, conducting experiments, analyzing results, and writing the final research/lab report. As a result of this project, students increased their understanding of circuits, electronics, and alternative energy, as indicated by pre- and posttest scores and feedback collected using the online SALG survey.

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Reviews (3)
  • on Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:44 PM

To understand how students are going to learn in our classroom, we need to figure out their background knowledge. This resource gives us a survey to give to our students to assess their knowledge and to gather information on a student. This resource can be extremely beneficial to my classroom.


  • on Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:15 PM

Using a pre and post test assessment called SLAG (Student Assessment of their Learning Gains) surveys presented by Wisconsin Center of Educational Research this teacher developed a project in which students had to develop a researchable question about solar energy and electronics and provide a way to answer their own question. Although the pre and post test questions are not provided in this activity, it is clear that students understanding of the concepts greatly improved from the data the author presents. The article does include documents called ‘Solar-Panel Investigation Guide’, a ‘Research Paper Outline/Guide’ and a timeline of the project. Reading this article could generate ideas for other such projects.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Thu Oct 06, 2011 7:56 PM

Buck introduces to SALG, a free, online survey that may be used to gather information and feedback from students anonymously. The website is and is for Student Assessment of Their Learning Gains. On the website it states it is a free course evaluation tool for college level instructors, though it appears the evaluation can be modified to work at any grade level. The solar panel investigation planning guide and research paper outline guides are well written and ready to use with a class as is. The material list is included and can be re-used year after year. I tried to use this activity with my middle school students without a lot of success. This is mostly due to the fact most of my students have limited exposure to Science coming into middle school and parts of it were just too hard.

Sandra Gady  (Renton, WA)
Sandra Gady (Renton, WA)

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