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Archived Information

Science and Technology/Engineering
Curriculum Framework - Spring 2001


What It Looks Like in the Classroom

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Additional Ideas for Developing Investigations and Learning Experiences and Suggested Extensions to Learning in Technology/Engineering are in Appendix III.

A Look at Energy Efficient Homes

Adapted from Standards for Technological Literacy, p.197

Technology/Engineering, Grades 9-10

The city of Westlake and the surrounding areas experienced an accelerated growth in the construction industry, especially in new home construction. The local high school technology teacher, Mr. Morales, thought it would be helpful for his students, as future consumers, to have an in-depth understanding of the housing industry and to know about the latest developments in home construction techniques, materials, and practices.

Mr. Morales decided to organize a lesson where students were invited to participate in designing an energyefficient home for a family of four. He guided the students to consider all forms of energy and not to limit their imaginations. Students were instructed to consider costs of using energy-efficient designs and how those costs might affect the resale value of a home.

The students in the technology classes were challenged to design, draw, and build a scale model of a residential home using heating and cooling systems that were energy-efficient, aesthetically pleasing, functional, marketable, and innovative. The house also had to accommodate a family of four with a maximum size of 2100 square feet. The students had to work within a budget of $150,000, and they had nine weeks to complete the project.

The students began by researching homes in their area that already incorporated features that were required in their home. They conducted library and internet searches to learn about the latest materials and techniques available in the housing industry. Students also interviewed local architects and building contractors to learn about various practices and how they were integrating innovative features. For example, they learned about incorporating increased day lighting, which takes into account the home's orientation, into the design of the home. They also learned about designing and installing environmentally sound and energy-efficient systems and incorporating whole-home systems that are designed to provide maintenance, security, and indoor airquality management.

The students then began the process of sketching their homes. Many students had to gather additional research as they realized they needed more information to complete their sketches. Using their sketches, the students built scale models of their homes out of mat board.

A group of building industry professionals from across the area was invited to evaluate students' work and provide feedback on their ideas in several categories, including design, planning and innovations, energy conservation features, drawing presentation, model presentation, and exterior design.

As a result of this experience, the students learned firsthand what it takes to design a home for the 21st century. Students also learned how to successfully plan and select the best possible solution from a variety of design ideas in order to meet criteria and constraints, as well as how to communicate their results using graphic means and three-dimensional models.

Assessment Strategies

  • Students can research building codes and zoning laws in the community. Write a detailed report on the building codes and zoning laws.
  • Students can compare construction efficiency of various house designs and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each design (e.g., ranch vs. colonial, lumber vs. steel framework). Create a chart illustrating the differences.
  • Students can create an engineering presentation of the design, efficiency, and prototype using appropriate visual aids, e.g., charts, graphs, presentation software. Presentation may include any other factors that might impact the design of the house, e.g., the site, soil conditions, climate.
  • Students will use a rubric to assess design specification, heat efficiency, and final prototype of the design challenge.

Engineering Design Learning Standards

1.1 Identify and explain the steps of the engineering design process, i.e., identify the problem, research the problem, develop possible solutions, select the best possible solution(s), construct a prototype, test and evaluate, communicate the solution(s), and redesign.
1.2 Demonstrate knowledge of pictorial and multi-view drawings (e.g. orthographic projection, isometric, oblique, perspective) using proper techniques.
1.3 Demonstrate the use of drafting techniques with paper and pencil or computer-aided design (CAD) systems when available.
1.4 Apply scale and proportion to drawings, e.g., 1/4" = 1'0".
1.5 Interpret plans, diagrams, and working drawings in the construction of a prototype.

Construction Technologies Learning Standards

2.1 Identify and explain the engineering properties of materials used in structures, e.g., elasticity, plasticity, thermal conductivity, density.
2.2 Differentiate the factors that affect the design and building of structures, such as zoning laws, building codes, and professional standards.
2.3 Calculate quantitatively the resultant forces for live loads and dead loads.

Energy and Power Technologies-Thermal Systems Learning Standards

4.1 Identify the differences between open and closed thermal systems, e.g., humidity control systems, heating systems, cooling systems.
4.4 Explain how environmental conditions influence heating and cooling of buildings and automobiles.


Last Updated: May 1, 2001
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