Build a passive solar home

Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
Subjects: English Language Arts, Science, Technology


In this activity, students will assemble, locate, and landscape a model of a passive solar home.

Every home collects solar energy. Sunlight falls on the house, some passing through windows and skylights where it is absorbed by roof and walls. Sunlight can help to heat a house in cold weather, but it can overheat the house in warm weather.

In Building a Passive Solar Home students design a home to take advantage of its natural surroundings and to manage or lessen the disadvantages of its environment.  In this largely student-paced activity, students “build” a passive solar home using paper, markers, tape, and pipe cleaners.

NB curricular outcomes

ELA 9-12

  • listen critically to analyze and evaluate concepts, ideas, and information (I can analyze others ideas of where to place the house) 

Science 6 – 10

  • SCO 1.1 – Students will ask questions about relationships between and among observable variables to plan investigations (scientific inquiry and technological problem-solving) to address those questions.
  • SCO 1.4 – Students will work collaboratively on investigations to communicate conclusions supported by data.
  • SCO 2.1 – Students will consider factors that support responsible application of scientific and technological knowledge and demonstrate an understanding of sustainable practices.

What you’ll need

  • Design worksheets
  • Scissors, tape, pipe cleaners, straight edge
  • Protractor
  • Light source (flashlight or lamp)
  • Crayons or markers
  • Teacher approved digital device for internet research


  1. Download the Instructors Guide.
  2. Download the paper design templates, student instructions and response guide.  Make copies of each (one per group).
  3. Cut out and assemble the house templates (conventional and lean-to) and place on the worksheet B from the design template handout.  Place the trees and add driveways and fencing.  Determine the best direction to face your home.
  4. Consider the location of the summer sun and the winter sun  Are the trees providing shade in the right place at the right time?
  5. Take pictures of your designs and answer the questions on the student response sheet.

NB global competencies


Activity downloaded from Renewable Energy Lesson Plans & Teaching Materials (


You may also like