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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

The BEAM Project: Building Efficient Architectural Models

Lesson Description:
This activity allows students the opportunity to explore materials used in architectural engineering and gain an understanding of their insolating properties. Students will research, design, build, test and improve a structure as to achieve the highest energy efficiency possible. Structures will be tested outside on a sunny day for eight hours with temperature changes being recorded each hour. Students will gain an understanding of how the combination of building location and orientation along with building design and materials can greatly affect the energy efficiency of a building.

  • to increase the students awareness of energy use and efficiency in homes
  • to apply knowledge of energy use and efficiency to real life situations
  • to compare different building materials and techniques to achieve the most efficient outcome

Lesson Type:
  • Experiment
  • Project

Sustainability Topic:
  • Energy
  • Green Building

GEF Program Category:
  • Green Building Program
  • Green Energy Challenge

Standards Addressed:
  • Science as inquiry standard a:
    • use appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data; develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence; think critically and logically to make the relationships between evidence and explanations.
  • physical science standard b: 
    • transfer of energy energy is a property of many substances and is associated with heat, light, and electricity. energy is transferred in many ways.
  • science and technology standard e: 
    • identify a problem or design an opportunity - students should be able to identify new problems or needs and to change and improve current technological designs.
    • propose designs and choose between alternative solutions - students should demonstrate thoughtful planning for a piece of technology or technique. students should be introduced to the roles of models and simulations in these processes.
    • implement a proposed solution - a variety of skills can be needed in proposing a solution depending on the type of technology that is involved. The construction of artifacts can require the skills of cutting, shaping, treating, and joining common materials--such as wood, metal, plastics, and textiles. Solutions can also be implemented using computer software.

Materials Needed:
  • students may bring materials from home: they must be safe for the classroom & this project.
  • 1/2” plywood bases for the structures to be mou

School or Group:
U.S. Department of Energy
Contact Email:
Lesson Documents:
application/pdf acts_brown_beam_308[1].pdf
Located in: Creativity

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