Solar Panels v. Trees

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The purpose of this activity is to integrate engineering education and social studies at the secondary level. To this end, it was designed for use in both science and social science classrooms. The activity is based on a real case. The driving question is: Can we find a solution for green energy and green plants to coexist in a neighborhood? Students examine whether trees or structures of neighbors violate the Solar Shade Control Act or whether evidence supports a solar collector owner to cite the Solar Rights Act to overrule the decision of a homeowner association to prohibit the removal of trees from her/his own property. Students should try to find solutions that are acceptable to all the involved parties using engineering design. Teachers organize a court or arbitration simulation and assign different roles to students. Students use Aladdin to collect evidence and reach settlement. Instructions and worksheets are provided as follows.

Student Documents

Instructions for Evidence Collection
Case Background
Reasoning Skill Coach
Aladdin Model
Solar Concepts Answer Sheet
Defendant Evidence and Argument Preparation Worksheet
Plaintiff Evidence and Argument Preparation Worksheet
Jury Verdict Form
Judge & Court Clerk Evidence Review & Penalty Recommendation

Teacher Guides

Slides
Reasoning Skill Coach (Teacher Version)

Related Educational Standards

The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework: D2.Geo.2.6-8, D2.Geo.2.9-12, D2.Civ.13.6-8, D2.Civ.13.9-12
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): MS-ETS-1, HS-ETS-1

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