The Lesson Plan - Earth's Structures


Science – SC.4.E.6.6
Identify resources available in Florida (water, phosphate, oil, limestone, silicon, wind, and solar energy).

English Language Arts – LAFS.4.L.3.4
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 4 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

Use context (e.g., definitions, examples, or restatements in text) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

Use common, grade-appropriate Greek and Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word (e.g., telegraph, photograph, autograph).

Consult reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation and determine or clarify the precise meaning of key words and phrases.

English Language Arts – LAFS.4.RI.1.2
Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.

Mathematics – MAFS.4.NBT.2.5
Multiply a whole number of up to four digits by a one-digit whole number, and multiply two two-digit numbers, using strategies based on place value and the properties of operations. Illustrate and explain the calculation by using equations, rectangular arrays, and/or area models.

Big Idea(s)

Earth Structures – Humans continue to explore the composition and structure of earth. External sources of energy have continuously altered the features of Earth by means of both constructive and destructive forces. All life, including human civilization, is dependent on Earth’s water and natural resources.

Essential Questions

  • What are Florida’s natural resources? 
  • Can Florida rely on the sun for its only source of energy?


Natural Resource Water Phosphate • Coastline Tourist Population • Economy Freshwater Springs Agriculture Oil Limestone Silicon Wind Energy Solar Energy

Background Information

We look at the State of Florida as a little piece of paradise in this great big planet called Earth. Florida has long been known for its beautiful beaches and its amazing coastline. However; most visitors come here to enjoy the SUN and tropical climate.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration,” The sun has produced energy for billions of years and is the ultimate source for all of the energy sources and fuels that we use today. People have used the sun’s rays (solar radiation) for thousands of years for warmth and to dry meat, fruit, and grains. Over time, people developed technologies to collect solar energy for heat and to convert it into electricity”

Solar energy is a renewable and limitless source of energy. John Herschel, a British astronomer, developed an energy collection device in the 1830’s. He was on an expedition in Africa when he had the idea to use the sun’s rays to cook his food. Herschel created a solar oven(a box for collecting and absorbing sunlight).

Today, we use different forms of technology for collecting and converting solar radiation into useful heat energy.

We use solar thermal energy systems to heat

  • Water for use in homes, buildings, or swimming pools
  • The inside of homes, greenhouses, and other buildings
  • Fluids to high temperatures in solar thermal power plants

Additionally, we have Solar photovoltaic systems that convert sunlight into electricity. Solar photovoltaic (PV) devices, or solar cells, change sunlight directly into electricity. Small PV cells can power calculators, watches, and other small electronic devices. Arrangements of many solar cells in PV panels and arrangements of multiple PV panels in PV arrays can produce electricity for an entire house. Some PV power plants have large arrays that cover many acres to produce electricity for thousands of homes. Solar energy has benefits and some limitations

Using solar energy has two main benefits:

  • Solar energy systems do not produce air pollutants or carbon dioxide.
  • Solar energy systems on buildings have minimal effects on the environment.

Solar energy also has some limitations:

  • The amount of sunlight that arrives at the earth’s surface is not constant. The amount of sunlight varies depending on location, time of day, season of the year, and weather conditions.
  • The amount of sunlight reaching a square foot of the earth’s surface is relatively small, so a large surface area is necessary to absorb or collect a useful amount of energy.

US Energy Information Administration: Solar Explained

Energy from the Sun Student Guide PDF

Guiding Questions

  • What is energy?
  • How can we harness the energy of the sun?
  • How can we use the energy of the Sun as a source of power?

Math Mania

Essential Question

If the dimensions are 25 acres by 40 acres, How many square acres does this power plant cover?

One of the largest solar power plants in the world is located in the Mojave Desert, in California.

The correct response is 1,000 square acres

Science Kids: Energy Facts

Fun Facts

Did you know…

  • Countries such as the United States, which lie in the middle latitudes, receive more solar energy in the summer not only because days are longer, but also because the sun is nearly overhead.
  • Solar technologies function most efficiently in the southwestern United States, which receives the greatest amount of solar energy.
  • The largest solar power plant in the world is located in the Mojave Desert in California, covering 1000 acres.
  • In the United States, solar panels need to face south to capture optimal sunlight.
  • Solar power is measured like all electricity—in watts (kilowatts, megawatts, gigawatts, and terawatts). One thousand watts equal one kilowatt, 1,000 kilowatts equal one megawatt, 1,000 megawatts equal one gigawatt, and 1,000 gigawatts equal one terawatt.
  • In the 1830s, the British astronomer John Herschel used a solar collector box to cook food during an expedition to Africa.

Science Kids: Energy Facts Solar Radiation Basics

Inquiry Type

  • Structured Inquiry
  • Think/Pair/Share
  • Confirmation Inquiry
  • Class/Group Activity

Teacher Resources