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The Kid Should See This, U.S. Department of Energy


3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th


Science, Engineering

Resource Types

  • Video, 3 minutes, 32 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Article

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - South

Fourth Graders Create a Solar Powered Classroom

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  • This video and article show how a fourth-grade class in Durham, North Carolina learned about solar energy, raised money to buy solar panels, and installed solar panels to power their classroom. 
  • Students will learn about renewable energy and see an example of successful and inspiring climate action at the classroom level. 
Teaching Tips


  • This video will inspire and guide students who want to install solar panels at their schools.
  • A short article provides several links, including a link to the class's Kickstarter campaign, which raised over $5,000 for the project.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should understand the environmental benefits of renewable energy and why it is more sustainable than electricity from fossil fuels.
  • Students should understand that every school is different, and some classes might face more obstacles to switching to solar energy than others.
  • The link in the article to energy.gov does not work.


  • Students could create a flowchart of the people that would have to approve a solar panel project at their school. Students could use this article on solar power in schools to gather information, then create a presentation for decision-makers on why their class would benefit from switching to solar power. 
  • Other resources on this topic include this digital book on solar energy and this Khan Academy video on solar energy technology.
Scientist Notes
This is a 4-minute video produced by the US Department of Energy and it showcases a 4th-grade class that researched and installed solar panels to make their classroom off the grid. This video was produced in 2013; now solar panels are the most cost-effective way to generate electricity. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 4.ESS3.1 Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and that their uses affect the environment.
      • 5.ESS3.1 Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
      • 6.ESS3.3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • 3.ETS1.1 Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
      • 5.ETS1.1 Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
    • PS3: Energy
      • 4.PS3.4 Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.
  • Social Sciences
    • Social Science Analysis (K-12)
      • 4.24 Explain individual and cooperative approaches people have taken, or could take in the future, to address local, regional, and global problems as well as predict possible results of those actions.
      • 6.27 Assess individual and collective capacities to take action to address local and regional issues, taking into account a range of possible levers of power, strategies, and potential outcomes.
  • Related Resources


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    • This is a great video and only a few minutes long! Although my class was not able to power our classroom with solar panels, it did serve as inspiration for other classroom action projects.
      1 year ago