The Sun—the Father of All Energy for Life

byElizabeth Isaac

Introduction

The Sun is fascinating! From Earth what appears to be a round ball is our source to light and heat. Another cool thing is that we orbit from Earth around the Sun as well, which should make it seem like it is not too far away. Sounds about right, right? But the Sun is actually millions of miles away! But, what do we really know about the Sun? Why should teachers teach about the Sun? How does the Sun help support life on Earth?  We know life would not exist without the Sun. There are other Suns in the universe. In our solar system, the Sun is in the center. Our Sun is the key to the unknown about the existences of our solar system that exist. It is the star that is closest to us. We and the astronomers observe the Sun to understand of our existences and how other stars may or will evolve.

The Sun is 93 million miles away and constantly changing and busy on a daily basis. What fascinates me on how it appears to be constantly on fire! The other fascinating thing is that the wonders of the universe can be answered scientifically without having to travel to the Sun or other planets. We know the Sun’s age, its mass, its radius, and its luminosity through studies and observation. Features on the Sun’s surface and the Sun’s actions shows how much power it has. Furthermore, the Sun has energy that supports life on Earth ¾  without the Sun, nothing will be able to survive. The Sun appears to have its own cycle of appearing and disappearing, and people of many cultures live their daily lives by how the sun appears or disappear (day and night).

Since the beginning of human existence, the Sun has been the sole source of energy for mankind and other living organism. While there are many other resources on earth that helps us survive here, the Sun’s energy is definitely the most important resource we will all need ¾ without the Sun, plants would not produce food, which would destroy animal like too. Unfortunately, the energy from the Sun cannot always be stored for many people to use. Most homes run by electricity that is connected to their homes. However, this is not the case for people on the reservation, and most are without modern energy to support their modern homes. Although many live the traditional way of life, others are living in the current modernized lifestyle. Those that live believing the old traditional ways feel that the Sun supports them in every way and are able to live comfortably. Unfortunately, those that have been assimilated into the western civilization, find it difficult to live without electricity or energy to run electricity in their homes.  Energy is needed for lights, refrigeration, heating and cooling, to cook a meal, and even to run a school! The energy that supports these needs are limited, and sometimes lacking, which makes it difficult for people on the reservation to keep up with modern technology. Most technological equipment, whether it be computers for school, or biotechnology needs the support of electricity or energy to run the equipment. So, who needs to know this? Students and the younger generation, especially on the reservation, need to start thinking about how the Sun can support their homes if electricity is lacking. One way is to start using solar panels. Yes, it is very costly, but it is also costly to run electrical lines to home in rural areas. We are talking $21,000 for one-fourth of mile just to put up poles for electrical lines. Hence, this unit is design to bring awareness of the energy from the Sun that can be a resource for homes on the reservation as well as any other rural area.

Demographics

Location

This unit is intended and developed for third grade students at Tsaile Public School as well as students all over the world of all ages. Tsaile Public School is located in the heart of the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Nation covers a vast area and is located mainly in a dry desert. Tsaile is located right along the base of Chuska Mountain where there are many trees and animals that inhabit the area. The outskirt of Chuska Mountain. or the base of the mountain, begins and extends into the dry desert area, and into the canyons and valleys which cultivates sage bushes, yucca or juniper trees. While the Chuska Mountain, rests at 2,700 above sea level, green grass, ponderosa trees, Spruce, fir, Douglas fir and aspen trees flourish there. Small lakes surround the mountain which many outsiders or local people go to fish or camp out. The community homes that people live in ranges from the traditional Hogan (octagon shape with one room) to more modernized homes of at least 3 bedrooms. There are buildings in suburb areas that have least 20 apartments. Then you have housing for school teachers with at least 24 apartments, all of which utilize electricity and have water hookups. In the surrounding area, the types of homes are Hogans, trailers, houses and even shacks. Some of the homes are without electricity or water hookups. Residents have to haul water from water wells and do chores before night fall hits. At night, most depend on flashlights or candles to light up homes. For those that can afford it, electricity from generators supports their home. About 1 out of 200 people will have solar panels. They basically rely on sunlight during the day.

The school

Tsaile Public School is an active school. It is one of the schools in the Chinle Unified School District. It is approximately 25 miles east of the 6 other schools: Chinle Elementary, Mesa View Elementary, Canyon De Chelly, Many Farms Elementary, Chinle Jr. High School, and Chinle High School.  Tsaile Public School is an elementary and Jr High school combined, from preschool to eighth grade. The school’s yearly enrollment fluctuates from 420 to 450 pupils.  There are several other schools outside the district within a radius of 10 to 50 miles where students can also enroll.  It is a matter of concern for teachers across the Navajo Reservation that many students keep transferring between schools. They are not stable academically.  They do not acquire all skills and reach required standards, and they are generally behind in their grade level. The ethnicity of the students is primarily Navajo people or descendants of other tribes. At least 50 % of the students speak their own language. The school is a low-income school. The school provides free meals for all students, K-12 that are enrolled that is funded through a grant.

The community of Tsaile is located on the northeastern part of the Navajo reservation. It is small and peaceful. An estimated number of 1,300 people live in Tsaile according to the 2019 United States Census Bureau report. At least 80 % Native Americans (predominately Navajo) and other race or ethnicity that occupy the area are White (12 %) and Hispanic (9%). 1 The nearest big town or city is about 75 miles toward east.  Locally, there is only one convenient gas station, and a community college, known as Dine College, which is considered to be the main campus throughout the reservation.

Lifestyle

Many Diné homes are affected by having limited resources such as electricity and the lack of running water. The people of Tsaile have to start early to find water from wells, windmills or streams to supply their homes and animals in order to survive. Those people who do have water and electricity are the ones living in homes provided by the school, or the Navajo Housing Authority, as well as those that have structured their homes to be able to have access to resources. The younger generation are the main group of people who are more modernized and find it difficult to live out on the reservation with no electricity or water. The reason it is difficult is because it requires hard work. Schools have many of the Navajo children dependent on technology, access to water, electricity at school and that puts them in a bind because of the choices they have to make the choice to learn to live without electricity, or the choice to relocate to the city. I believe that children or younger generation need to start thinking about bringing the resources to them and help out their relative instead of going to the cities because this is where their parents and grandparents and their roots are.

On weekends, families often go fishing at a nearby lake or basically stay home. Most people, who are Diné, live by the traditional values and beliefs of the Diné culture. Some of the children are engaged in learning their own Diné language and practicing the culture of Diné which involves tending to livestock, especially sheep, hunting, fishing, and family events. Others choose to live in a more modern culture of the western civilization. Those families basically watch movies and be on the internet or video games and attend church. Older generations practice ceremonies to maintain harmony in their household. They often gather for ceremonial purposes or casual get together, for trips or social activities and events in the community. Younger families generally are not at home ¾ young parents have to work or live off the reservation to provide for their families, and grandparents often take care of their grandchildren.  Some of these young parents live in the cities or town and cannot come home as often as they want or should.  But the people in Tsaile seem to know each other very well. Extended families live nearby, or cluster by each other and usually support one another. Life in Tsaile reflects the lives on the Navajo Nation, as most families have livestock, or are farmers.

Content

Sun

A star is born roughly about a 5 billion years ago roughly, 4.57 billion years to be more precise. The star which we now refer to as the Sun was formed from clouds of dusts and gasses. “We wound up with a spinning disk of gas and dust. The central region had the most material and became hotter as energy was release from the forces of gravity. This hot gas in the center became hot energy for nuclear fusion to begin. At this instant the Sun was born.”2 The Sun is the heart of our solar system that holds the planets and other debris together with its gravitation. It is made of gases, called helium and hydrogen. The core today is about 2/3 Helium. The heat allows nuclear reaction to occur, which cause 4 hydrogen nuclei to for 1 helium nucleus and releases energy in the process. This energy is transported to the outer layers of the Sun and radiated from it to provide us with light and energy. Part of this energy is reflected back into space, but part of it reaches the surface of the earth and heats it up. It is amazing to know that the of the total amount of energy the Sun releases, the earth’s energy consumption is only a small fraction of the energy that the Sun produces and radiates away.  The Sun so massive, that its powerful gravitational force holds the solar system together. Within itself, the Sun is balancing the forces of gravity and of gas pressure to keep itself equilibrium.3 Just as the Earth has its own weather, such as thunderstorms, the Sun also has solar storms caused by its magnetic fields. The Sun is enormous. In comparison, the Earth is similar to a marble next to a basketball. “The Sun could fit 109 Earths side-by-side across its diameter, and it has enough volume to hold about 1.3 million Earths”.4

The Sun’s atmosphere is made of many elements. It is mainly hydrogen and Helium. When the Sun was formed, about 71% of the Sun’s mass is hydrogen and another 27% is helium. The 2% percent is carbon, oxygen and nitrogen and other elements. 5 At the center of the Sun however, nuclear reactions have converted a lot of the hydrogen to helium. Using the absorption lines in the solar spectra, scientist have an idea what the Sun is composed of. Although astronomers study the Sun daily, there is no telling the Sun will do on a given day and whether there will be a solar storm. At this point, we know that the Sun is about 5 billion years old, and theories suggest that it live for 5 billion years as it going through its life cycle.

Children are aware that the Sun gives light and gives us daytime, while the Moon apparently gives us night. From their perspective, the Sun also gives heat, and many are aware of the seasons as the Earth travels around the Sun.  But there so much more to learn and teach. Especially, when in this day and time, Earth’s natural resources are decreasing. We are using up most of our natural resources to survive on Earth. Unfortunately, that is not enough, especially for the future generation. What is the answer?

What is energy?

Energy is found in various ways and forms. Energy gives the ability to move things. Such as the energy to move your legs using the muscles in the body or even simply for the functioning of the brain ¾energy in the brain cells (neurons) allow them to regulate the body, and, for example, to move one’s body. Energy is also obtained by the use of natural resources from the Earth, such as natural gases, coal used to make electricity. This type of energy is used to light up streets, cool or heat homes, cook a meal, or for transportation.  Energy can be seen in the movement of an object. One can also feel energy through light waves, for example the warmth from the Sun if we are cold. Or when one gets in a closed car, it would feel hot on a sunny day. Furthermore, you can see the energy carries by light at work when you see ice melting in sunlight. The Energy from the sun can be captured and stored for later use. One of the main ways that energy is stored is through batteries, these can be charged using solar panel, which can also heat water. Vehicles store fossil fuel for energy to make it move when in use. A flashlight can be turned on from the energy that is stored in the battery. So, energy can be changed into another form as it is used. In order to find energy, you can look in the motion of objects, heat, light and even sound, chemical reactions or electricity.

Just as the Sun has produces energy by nuclear, people on Earth use what they have on Earth to create the energy needed. Fusion creates an enormous amount of energy, and the ability to control fusion, which we do not have yet, would do wonders for Earth. There are two types of energy, renewable and nonrenewable.  Most of what we used for energy comes from burning nonrenewable fuels ¾coal, petroleum or oil, or natural gas. The energy from these fuels is often used to generate electricity to meet the needs of consumers. Unfortunately, some people are unable to have access to energy. For example, on the Navajo Nation, many homes do not have electricity to cook their food, or to supply air conditioning or heating in homes. In addition, the Navajo Nation lacks energy and resources (such as funding) to established running water to all homes. Since the recent COVID-19 Pandemic hit the Nation, it became very visible that the nation lacks resources, and this has adversely affected many lives of the Diné People. The resources need was obvious limited to the people. What can the Diné Nation do to resolve this problem? If energy is not supplied to every single household, what other sources can be used to offer the same accommodation for people to live efficiently. 

The Sun’s Energy

The Sun is the center of our solar system.  The energy from the Sun is one of the main resources that humans on Earth need in order to survive. The Sun’s energy supports life on earth. Without the Sun, there would be no life. The greatest blessing about the location of Earth is that it is at the right distance from the Sun.  We are basically not too far nor too close to the Sun. In essence, the conditions are perfect for humans and animals and other living organisms to inhabit Earth.  From the perspective of the Diné people, the Sun is the seen as the father. Both the Sun and the Earth are active and deserve the respect from humans, as one would want from another. The Sun is seen as a living being from the personification of many cultures. The Sun is shining consistently. Its radiant energy is needed when it reaches the Earth. The heat keeps the Earth warm enough to sustain humans and animals from freezing. As a comparison we know that a closed vehicle with the windows rolled up will heat up since heat is trapped and when you enter a closed car, it feels hot inside. This is what happens to the Earth, with the atmosphere trapping the heat. Additionally, the Sun gives light and life on Earth is not in darkness. The Sun’s energy is used by plants (which is known as photosynthesis) to create food. This means that life on Earth depends on the Sun since animals live by eating plants or other animals that eat plants. The Sun’s rays transfer energy to plants. Additionally, the Sun’s energy can be converted to electricity. But what about the use of Solar energy? The Diné people who live on the reservation find it difficult and costly to invest in electricity to their home. For this reason’s many live without the resources to make life a little easier. Instead, life is a little more strenuous to be able to get resources needed. Such as water, many Dine people haul water from the mountain or water wells. Food is stored in cool rooms. In addition, drought is also going to be a bigger problem as we face climate change.

Solar Panels

A Solar panel is a device that collects the energy from the Sun, often known as Photo-voltaic (PV) panels.  Solar panels purpose is to absorb solar energy to generate electricity in homes, so it can power lights in a home. It would help many people to be able to have lights in home. But solar panels are expensive. There are some challenges that many are faced with when using solar panels, such as how much energy is stored, or what happens when it is cloudy? Use of solar energy is costly, but it is than having nothing. Among people thinking about this is and see this as an issue Brett Isaac, who works on the Navajo Reservation. Brett is a Native American, he is of the Diné Nation and of the Hopi Tribe. He received his Master Degree in Business from Arizona State University. He is the founder of Shonto Energy and currently works with Navajo Power Energy. His job is basically to help many native people on the reservation, especially on the Navajo Reservation, to get access to electricity or power in their homes using solar panels. His job is selling and installing solar panels for the Navajo people. He has helped many people get access to power through solar panels and is quite happy because most people from homes that had no energy at all. Life is harder without electricity.  In an interview and talk to the YNI seminar, Brett shared his passion to help the Navajo people to use or convert to solar panels for lighting or heating homes. He has seen many homes without electricity and has the compassion to reach out to these homes to use solar panels. With the monthly bill of electricity is also a good reason, he believes it also helps to cut down the cost of living. Brett is also a nephew of mine through my older brother. His father would have been extremely proud of his work. So, for this unit, I hope and plan to have him as a guest speaker for my class and to do a show-and-tell about solar panels. Students learn best through hands on and visual aids.

Many people feel fortunate to even get light into their homes. Other resources are also helped by using the Sun’s energy to generate electricity, such as operating a microwave, keeping food in a cooler or refrigerator. As we move into a more modernize lifestyle we are depending on many resources, however, this can also be. What do I mean by harmful? Collecting fossil fuels to run electricity is harming the earth; this is another problem that will need to be addressed as well. One way to help the Earth is to move toward Solar Energy and tore it to supply ours homes.

Values and Belief of the Dine People of the Sun

Just about in every culture, there are myths about the Sun. For example, in the Diné culture, there are beliefs about solar and lunar eclipses.  According to the Diné mythology, when there is an eclipse, the Sun and Moon are engaged in the Sun renewing itself. The Sun is considered to be dying, but able to renew itself and live. During this period, the Diné people are supposed be at home and be awake. On the Navajo Reservation, the president of the Navajo Nation, Jonathan Nez, encourages and calls his employees to have a late start to work or even gives them a day off. This is great because it gives people the opportunity to stay home or carry out their traditions and the beliefs with respect to the Sun. The Dine people are not allowed to view eclipses, or be involved in certain actions during the eclipse, whether it be solar or lunar eclipse.  The eclipses are considered sacred and can be a taboo to work, as in the case for some other cultures too. The Diné cultural belief is that if one were to look at the eclipse, eat at that time, or basically be disrespectful, there would be consequences. It would affect one’s mental and physical abilities. In the western science, the perspective is different. The average rate for an eclipse to occur is every year and half. 6 Basically, this is when Moon or the Earth is aligned and blocks the light onto earth. This is true for both solar and lunar eclipse. Solar eclipse is when the sunlight is blocked by the Moon, and the lunar eclipse is when the Earth blocks the sunlight to the Moon. People get to view this depending on where they are able to get the best view. “Eclipse of the Sun occur when the moon blocks our view of the Sun. Thus, the Earth-Moon-Sun form a straight line. Such an alignment is a form of “Syzygy,” which is a wonderful word for alignment of three celestial objects.”7 It is also a time when many scientists study the Sun.

The astronomers who are most interested study the sun during solar eclipses. There are other people that enjoy and look forward to view the eclipse. They are curious about the Sun as well. What is observed? As you may already know, looking at the Sun is bad for your eyes. You can even lose your vision because the Sun can burn your eyes if you look straight at it. So, a total eclipse makes it a little safer to look at the Sun.  As the moon blocks the sunlight, the corona of the Sun appears and can be seen with e the naked eye. One can sometimes catch a solar flare during an eclipse. During an eclipse animals and birds become quiet. It almost seems as they have connection with the Sun and know what to do. The land also becomes pale to dark during an eclipse. The eclipse does not just happen all at the same time for every are on earth. It depends on where one is. The Sun and the Earth as well as the moon follows a trail. This is how the eclipse are pretty much predicted.

From the perspective of many Native Americans, as well as other indigenous cultures, eclipses are a time of spiritual happenings. In this unit, the students will gain a deeper knowledge of how the Sun is viewed by the Diné people and how to show respect for the Sun. Students will become knowledgeable about how the Sun and learn to connect themselves to all living things.  The Johonaa’ei, known as the Sun in the Diné language, deserves the respect of all as it supports life. In the Diné people believe that one should arise with the Sun. As one wakes up at dawn, white corn or yellow corn is offered to the holy people and the Sun. It is believed that that is what the Sun expects from the people for each day. Then the Johonaa’ei or the Sun bestows good blessing that one has prayed for. The Sun is the way to strengthen the mind and body. If one should sleep after the Sun has risen, the Sun will still bless, but sees that the people still sleeping want to remain sleeping. So, in a way, the Sun blesses with sickness if that is what he sees. For this reason, the elders and people long ago were up before the Sun to get the good blessings.

Most indigenous people, even without scientific knowledge, have stories that date back in time about the Sun and the Universe. The stories and songs are embedded in their culture and tradition. I can hear the songs sung by my grandfather about the Sun, the Earth, the stars. This makes me believe that Native American already knew about the existence of the Universe, also that the Sun and the Earth are round because their lives are lived and done through circle in respect. According to the Navajo perspective, the Sun is the most powerful deity among all creations.  In the Navajo culture, the Sun is considered a male father and is known as the Sun Carrier, while the moon is considered the female. She is known as the moon carrier. According to the Navajo Mythology, they live in pairs and work in pairs. They follow each other. Other culture finds that inaccurate, but today, it is known that they do work in pairs.8 One gives us day and the other gives us night. The journey through life has songs about the Sun as well. This is a way one would follow the path through Hozho (Beauty Way), which is the path to eternal happiness and good health. The Sun is important to all life on Earth.

Teaching Strategies

This unit will require active participation through hands-on and collaborations. Students will be involved in teaching strategies that will guide them to learn the most effective way. Here are some strategies that is incorporated into the unit lesson and a brief description to help one understand it. These approaches and methods will help guide students to develop achievable goals. There will be different approaches such as pairing students, whole group, use of graphic organizers, video viewing as well as a guest speaker. The unit will have the students involved in collaboration as a team or with a partner to develop a solution on the uses of Sun’s energy. There will be use of graphic organizer to develop vocabulary. Students will also use technology to complete research and develop a plan. I will be using visual aids as videos from YouTube, or photographs off websites. I will be using strategies to involves students to learn through GRR (Gradual Release Response). Students will be involved in “I do, We do, You do” Model to help students learn more effectively.

Questioning and Experimenting (Higher Order Thinking Skills)

According to Bloom’s Taxonomy, students learn through steps to get them to the level of being able to apply and be creative when using the HOTS (higher order thinking skills). Bloom taxonomy is a concept of education reform that guides students to higher level thinking. Students vary a different level in the classrooms, teachers lean on these taxonomies to level students’ academic performance. Teachers use questioning skills to be able to adjust to the level of the students. The goal is to get them to a higher-level thinking based on the taxonomy. In this unit, teacher will begin at a lower level to basically identify then to applying knowledge. As student progress in the activities, students too will begin use questioning skills in their assignments. They will be utilizing the scientific methods and process at times to develop questions. Student will use question starters such as who, what, how to ask questions about what they want to learn about or find out. Students will be experimenting with heat and making a solar oven to test the Sun’s energy as a resource.

Visual aids or Nonlinguistic representation

Providing visual aids and using visual aids when teaching helps support learning for the students. This strategy enables students to conceptualized through metal images, physical models, and pictorial representation. Students that are ELL (English Language Learners) benefit the most and is very help for comprehension. If students cannot grasp the concept through auditory, then visual aids support them to make connection.  Researcher supports that using visual aids provides interest, motivation, provides and establishes learning through thinking and ensures long term memory or knowledge through experiences. Students will remember the concept of what is being taught and make the connection. In this unit, students will be able to create models of the Sun, look at a solar unit and test the solar unit to get a better understanding of solar.

Connect to Reading and Connect to real word situation

Through the 3 strategies of making connections, students have to make meaning of what they are learning about. In addition, making real world connections will be more meaningful when learning a concept. Teachers need to make the connection of what skills or objectives they are teaching and give the “why?” to make it relevant and meaningful.  The three strategies of making connection are making the Text-to-Self Connection, Text-to-Text Connection, and Text-to-World Connection. As students are reading or listening to text read during the lesson, teacher will pause and have students make connection with the text. Through the lesson, the text or the information share with students will be evaluated by students so they understand the purpose for the lesson. This will also increase interest in what they are learning about. In this case, the Sun and its significance.

Explaining ideas or solutions to problems

Providing a time to have students explain the steps and explain their mathematics thinking process helps the teacher see what the students’ thoughts are. Furthermore, asking for and providing student examples helps the teacher see where exactly the students misunderstand or mistakes are.  It also helps other students peer teach each other.  That is one of the factors that helps eliminate fear or uncomforting feelings from the students. In fact, it makes it more motivating for the students.

Graphic Organizers

Use of cues and graphic organizers is a teaching strategy that very helpful for students. It ensures focus is maintained on relevant important data. Using graphic organizers provides steps and organizes thoughts as students can see and better grasp the concept being taught. It also helps compare different scenarios, topic identification, creating a mental picture, organizes the thinking process.  Providing graphic Organizers also provides a similar experience as hands-on. Place Value charts, ten frame, grouping charts will be used in this lesson.

Grouping and Cooperative Learning

Using grouping or organizing students into groups ensures students to be actively involved, especially when student that have a hard time grasping a skill. Some students feel more comfortable relying on their own peers when they share and talk. Teachers also need to be aware on how to group students so they have to preplan on how to group students.

Differentiated Instruction

Students ability level varies. Some students are able to learn at different levels of the Bloom’s Taxonomy. Not all students are able to be learn, comprehend and apply using the same methods. Some students need a different approach. So teachers need to differentiate instructions on a lesson. Students that are English Language Learners or Exceptional students are better instructed by modifying lesson in different ways.  Differentiating instruction will meet the needs of students. Students will comprehend and get to the level of applying as the receive instruction from a different perspective. In this unit, information gathered will be reviewed and be modified by grouping smaller, reteach several times for those that need it.

Technology

Now more than ever, schools are relying heavily on technology as they went to on-line learning (Virtual Learning). Basically, just about every School Districts assigned or provided a laptop or table to students with many software programs that have been download for learning purposes. Students should feel comfortable, have access and learn to navigate the tools on the computer. Many students and teachers are familiar, but with this new way of learning, both ends will be confronted with new knowledge of programs, features, and curriculum that will test the ability of teachers and students. This year, the students will learn in person, but the use of technology is still in place. Students are provided a laptop and all the assignments are to be completed online while in class. In addition, videos and photographs will be shared from NASA to further enforce the concept.

Gradual Release of Responsibility

Gradual release is a good method to use for teachers.  It involves teacher to first model, then work with students together by helping them or guiding them, and to finally releasing students to work on their own based on the demonstration that is shown.  This model also referred as “I Do, We Do, You do”. This model or strategy helps students work from cognitive work to shift to become independent after teacher models the expectation. This is a joint responsibility between the teachers and the students.  In the demonstration for this unit, teacher will model completing graphic organizer, model of the sun, and creating and demonstrating the activity such as the solar box to cook or heat up a pizza.

Assessment

The goal for the students is to function at DOK level of a 3 to 4, which means students should be able to analyze, evaluate, create and developing at a higher thinking level. Each year, students at the Tsaile Public school do not perform will on their assessment in the area of informational text. Through the activities and use of strategies to deliver this content will increase student achievement. Students will be assessed through observation, participation, teacher made quiz, District Formative Assessment, and the Arizona State Assessment- 3rd grade AZ Merit.

Classroom Activities

For this unit, I would like to involved my 3rd grade students in activities to understand the Sun from Diné cultural perspective and what the it has to offer. In addition, the story behind the Sun in terms of mythology. Students will be involved in learning how Diné traditional people respect the Sun. One way is to offer corn pollen each morning and to meet the Sun by running to the east. The Diné traditional people ask for blessing from the holy people (there are many) and to be thankful for the Sun. The Sun’s energy offers many usages. Students will be involved in project-based activities. Not only will students be involved in hands-on activities, they will build vocabulary while they understand how the Sun radiates and emits energy. The idea behind the unit is to also encourage students to develop an interest in engineering and be open minded about how the Sun’s energy can be used to help their own community solve problems or issues that they face. The students will be involved with this lesson for 15 days including reading, discussion, and activities. Students will complete a project where they will engineer and design a usage for solar energy in solving a problem that could help their families or the people.

Week 1, Day 1

It is important to have the students understand the in their own understanding of the Sun. Students will begin with a journal activity of their parents have taught them about the Sun. How do they understand the Sun. Students are given to draw and write what they heard about the Sun. This is sort of a pre-assessment to see what they know. They will each get KWL chart and transfer what they know about the Sun. You can ask the question, “Think about what your parents or even grandparents has told you about the Sun. Write your response in the journal and transfer the information to the KWL chart. Next, students will be asked to think about the Sun. “What else do you know about the Sun? What does it look like? How do you think it looks?” Students will again add the information given to the KWL chart in the Know section. Students will then be paired and have a discussion as they share their knowledge about the Sun. After students had the time to share and discuss their thoughts, all information can be collected on a larger KWL poster or just on a sheet. In the journal, students will draw a picture of the Sun.

Week 1, Day 2–Day 4

Introduction to the Sun using a literary text titled, Racing the Sun written by Paul Pitt and Diné Bahane’ Navajo Creation written by Paul G. Zolbrod are two great resources to use.  For the next 3 days, teacher will read the chapter about to the students as whole group. At the end of each chapter/ reading, a discussion about the Sun and make the Connection-to-Self strategy will be used. Students will be taking notes on a graphic organizer to recollect information as they go. In addition, vocabulary development will be compiled. This will help students understand any reading that may have that Vocabulary.

Week 1, Day 5

Teacher will continue to read the text to students as students make the connection to the text. The text, Diné Bahane’ Navajo Creation written by Paul G. Zolbrod, will be read to them as well. Teacher will only share the part about the creation of the Sun mythology story. Continuation of keeping journal and vocabulary should be reinforced. Teacher and students will discuss in groups or in pair about the aspects of the sun in a cultural perspective. This activity is important to teach the students about respect for the Sun. In addition to this activity, a weekend homework for the parents to be involved is to have students discuss with their parents or grandparents about their teaching of the Sun. They can share any stories they have heard in the classroom setting. All the information should be collected and display as learning takes place. Students will write new information as they gather their records on the KWL paper they have started.

Week 2, Day 1

In order to understand the Sun, students will draw, or create an art work of the sun using paper plates, strings, sticks, or other materials.  Students will write about what they know of the Sun from their KWL chart. Next, students will begin to question and thoughts about the Sun. Each student will develop questions about the Sun and jot it down in their KWL Chart. They will write the questions in the “What” column. They will write at least 3 questions they have about the Sun.

Week 2, Day 2–Day 5

Teacher will begin teaching about the Sun. Images of the Sun from NASA will be used to show the students what the Sun looks like. Vocabulary is also important. Teacher will list vocabulary or terminologies in the class room or as a bookmarker to remind students the word to associate with when talking about the Sun. Teacher will share the components of the Sun, the energy flow of the Sun. Students will also experience what the Suns energy looks like by standing outside and look around at the light. They will learn about how the Sun emits radiation or energy. They will also feel the heat. As students are doing this, they will have a graphic organizer to collect their findings. Each day, teacher will use images as how the Sun looks, how it radiates energy, and how energy is used. Teacher will introduce solar power and where the solar panels are located. Some of the students may be familiar with solar panels as they may be powered by one.  Students will understand how solar energy is transferred to resources for homes as electric.

Week 3, Day 1

Students will be involved in creating a solar oven to heat a pizza. Before the activity, students will make prediction, draw hypothesis about what will happened. Discussion about their thoughts can be shared as partners or as whole group. Each student will get a pizza box and aluminum foil. They will follow direction as to how to create an oven using the foil and the box. Teacher will give a slice of cold frozen pizza. Students will put their slices into the boxes and wait to see what happens. Students will write in their journal about what is happening to the pizza. They will also record their findings. Teacher will ensure that students understand how the pizza is being warmed up or how it is getting hot by using questioning. This is an observation to help students understand the Sun transmitting energy to the box to get it hot. Students also need to understand that the box heats up by the help of the Sun and the Foil which will lead to the next activity.  For more practice, students can try cooking egg in their solar ovens. Another activity is to put ice on a paper and see why the ice is melting.

Week 3, Day 2

A guest speaker with expertise on solar panels will be able to demonstrated what a solar panel looks like. Students will compare their solar boxes to the solar panels. They will understand what is the main source that is need to make things happened such as cook the pizza, give light in the dark, power objects with panels. Each of the students will have a little panel to compare with as well.

Week 3, Day 3–4

As students learn about the power of the Sun, they will be able to create a model of a home and experiment in creating energy for a home. Each student will create a diorama or structured boxes of a home. Students will be given supplies of miniature solar panels to use. They will also be given a small Christmas bulb and see if they can light them up. They will explain why that happens and how it happens. The purpose of this activity is to help the students learn about how the energy that is radiated by Sun can be used to help make things function in a home. Students will also look at other solar objects such as solar flashlight, solar watches, solar calculators, solar garden walkways lights. These are some of objects that used by people to have light at home.

Week 3, Day 5

In conclusion of the activity, the teacher will discuss the importance of the Sun. After all, humans have much significance to the Sun. The Sun is the center of religion, mythology and of course sustains life on Earth. It provides for survival on Earth. Teacher will ask students to writing their learning our outcome of why the Sun is important and how it helps life on Earth. Furthermore, teacher will encourage students to develop or create and object that will use solar power to help people without electricity.

Appendix on Implementing District Standards

Reading Standards

3.RI.10 Student will proficiently and independently read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in a text complexity range determined by qualitative and quantitative measures appropriate to grade 3.

3.RI.03 Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.

Science

3.E1U1.4 Construct an explanation describing how the Sun is the primary source of energy impacting Earth systems.

3.L2U1.7 Develop and use system models to describe the flow of energy from the Sun to and among living organisms. Construct an explanation describing how the Sun is the primary source of energy impacting Earth systems.

3.P4U1.3 Develop and use models to describe how light and sound waves transfer energy.

Language standards

3.L.04 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 3 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

Teaching Resources

Outer Space: "I'm So Hot," The Sun Song by StoryBots | Netflix Jr – YouTube

Pitts, Paul. Racing the sun. Avon Camelot book, 1988.

Chapter 1: A Star Is Born | Life and Death of a Planetary System – Exoplanet Exploration: Planets Beyond our Solar System (nasa.gov)

Zolbrod, P.G., 1984. Diné bahane╩╗: the Navajo creation story. UNM Press.

Bibliography and Resources

Basu, Sarbani, Yale National Intensive Session, Stellar Life Cycle-July 16, 2021

Golub, Leon, and Jay M. Pasachoff. Nearest Star: The Surprising Science of our Sun. Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Farella, John R. The main stalk: A synthesis of Navajo philosophy. University of Arizona Press, 1990.

Fraknoi, Andrew, David Morrison, and Sidney Wolff. " Astronomy OPENSTAX Textbook and Resource Hub.". Rice University, 2018

Isaac, Brett, NavajoPower.com-Interview, July 15, 2021

Pasachoff, Jay M. The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Sun. Penguin, 2003.

https://www.arizona-demographics.com/tsaile-demographics

Zolbrod, P.G., 1984. Diné bahane╩╗: the Navajo creation story. UNM Press.

Notes

1 Arizona Demographics.com

2 Pasachoff, Jay M. The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Sun. Penguin, 2003.

3 Fraknoi, Andrew, David Morrison, and Sidney Wolff. " Astronomy OPENSTAX Textbook and Resource Hub.". Rice University, 2018

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 Golub, Leon, and Jay M. Pasachoff. Nearest Star: The Surprising Science of our Sun. Cambridge University Press, 2014.

7 Ibid.

8 Farella, John R. The main stalk: A synthesis of Navajo philosophy. University of Arizona Press, 1990.


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