The Florida Solar Energy Center Logo
    Home > Education > K-12 > Curricula > Building Performance Matters > Lesson 1
Lesson 1: Introduction, Advance Organizer, and The Problem


National Science Standards
Learning Objectives
Background Information, Vocabulary and Materials
Lesson Procedures
Handouts and Worksheets
Criterion-Referenced Test

2x, 50-min. periods

National Science Standards

Science as Inquiry: Content Standard A:
All students should develop:

  • Abilities to do scientific inquiry
  • Formulate and revise scientific explanations and models using logic and evidence
  • Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and models
  • Communicate and defend a scientific argument

Physical Science: Content Standard B:
All students should develop an understanding of:

  • Conservation of energy and increase in disorder Interactions of energy and matter

Learning Objectives

Each student will:

  1. Describe the three-phase process for designing/developing energy efficient buildings (Problem, Solution, Improving the Solution)
  2. Give examples of the Solution and Improving the Solution
  3. Identify ways to make houses comfortable and productive.

Background Information, Vocabulary and Materials

Background Information

This first lesson sets the conceptual stage for the BPM unit. The Advance Organizer (AO) gives an overview of the unit by using a Problem, Solution and Improving the Solution format. Each lesson in the unit can be related to a section of the Advance Organizer (PowerPoint slides: 744K).

The Problem: we are out in the elements: the cold, wind, rain, sun, etc. and it can get miserable. (AO slide 1)

The Solution: people begin to build shelters for themselves for some level of protection from the elements and for comfort and productivity so that their lives are more productive. We call this shelter a building envelope. It protects you from the elements just as an envelope protects a letter. (AO slides 2)

Improving the Solution: The building envelope is a good start but it isn’t perfect. So people begin to search to improve the building by having a better envelop, adding and improving HVAC, and adding and improving lighting (AO slides 3 and 4).

The learning activity, Stranded!, gives students a chance to state what they know about energy efficient buildings in an inquiry oriented exercise.



Lesson Procedures

Presenting the Information

Introduce the unit to the students by asking one of the following questions depending on the season you are in: (10-15 minutes)

If your air conditioner broke and it could not be fixed for 3 days, what steps would you take to keep your house cool?


If your heater broke and could not be fixed for 3 days and you didn’t have a fireplace to keep you warm, what steps would you take to keep your house warm?

Let students brainstorm. Write student responses on a flip chart. Accept (almost) whatever they say.

Organize their responses into the following categories (you can provide the categories or probe the students to give them): For example:

Block outside heat/cold (let sun in through the windows, cover windows)
Turn on a fan/space heater
Block drafts (winter)
Put on extra clothing

Use the Advance Organizer at this point to introduce the BPM unit to the students (10 minutes). There are six slides that make up the Advance Organizer and introduce the good performing building concepts using The Problem, The Solution and Improving the Solution format. Explain that there is a whole “industry” that addresses questions about how to keep houses and people warm in the winter and cool in the summer efficiently. It is very important because by learning about this subject we can provide more comfortable and productive homes and other buildings, and keep energy use costs down at the same time. Reducing energy use is of course also important since some energy resources are becoming scarce. The more we use, the less we will have in the future. The purpose of this unit is to help you learn about energy efficient buildings and energy resources and so that you and your family can make good energy decisions for yourself, for the environment, and for the country.

Student Practice/Activity

  • Students will participate in a case study. The case study is self-contained and is included as the Lesson 1 Learning Activity: Stranded! sheet. It will take about 20 minutes for students to work through the case study. (Note: This exercise refers to pallets. Students may need an explanation of what a pallet is.) The feedback and discussion will also take about 20 minutes. (Total time: 40 minutes)
  • Put students into groups of 4.
  • Give each student a copy of the case study Stranded!
  • Ask students to read the directions and follow them.


Handout or discuss Activity Feedback: Stranded!

Handouts and Worksheets

Critierion-Referenced Test

This material part of final test. See Testing Blueprint in Teacher's Guide for details.

Home | Teacher's Guide | Lesson Plans | Learning Objectives and Tests
National Science Standards | Glossary | References | Site Map | Feedback Form

Individual pages from this web site may be printed and duplicated for
student classroom use provided that proper credit is given to
the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC).