Year 8 Science – Sustainable Houses

In the recent Year 8 Physics unit the students have been learning about different forms of energy such…

In the recent Year 8 Physics unit the students have been learning about different forms of energy such as kinetic (movement) energy, electrical energy, and heat energy. They have also learnt about energy transformations using examples from everyday lives such as boiling a kettle or listening to music.

A particular focus in this unit has been on the transfer of heat energy that can occur through a number of different ways – convection, conduction, and radiation.

The girls have had the opportunity to showcase their learning through a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) House Assignment Project. They were tasked with the challenge of designing and building an energy efficient house that had to meet specific requirements and design constraints.

Please click through the videos below to see each classes House designs:

About the Project:

There were three components to this assignment. A report, two-dimensional drawings of a floor plan and elevations, and a three-dimensional model house.

The reporting component required a detailed summary of how the students chose to incorporate the use of energy efficient design. We needed to include an example of how each energy saving feature utilised a method of heat transfer to either reduce or enhance heating and/or cooling in our house. Each student was required to research, investigate, and include features for convection, conduction, and radiation. The features needed to focus on passive solar design so features such as a solar hot water system and solar panels did not meet the brief.

  • Convection describes the movement of particles due to differences in temperature. A transfer of heat energy occurs as particles are heated, they become less dense and rise. The colder, denser air falls – creating a circular movement of air known as a convection current. Some examples in our houses include strategic window placement, whirly birds and insulation in the ceiling.
  • Conduction describes the transfer of heat through the vibration of particles. As particles collide with one another, heat energy is transferred from one particle to the next.  Examples include double glazing of windows, cavity walls, insulation, and curtains.
  • Radiation describes the transfer of heat energy through light. All objects radiate heat if they are at a temperature that is higher than their surroundings. Examples include the orientation of the house, deciduous tree placement, and the use of structures such as pergolas to provide protection from the sun.

Using the students mathematical ability and problem – solving skills, they were required to use a scale of 1:100cm to produce a floor plan that was no more than 285m2 and had a minimum number of bedrooms and living spaces (all with different size specifications). This aspect of the assignment was challenging. The width of all doors, the height of the ceiling and the position of the house relative to others in the town all needed to be accounted for. Accompanying two – dimensional drawings of elevations were also included.

The last component of the assignment was the design and building process. Using the 1:100cm scale the students were required to convert our two – dimensional planning into a 3-dimensional model of our house – bringing it to life. This component involved working on their creativity, innovative design, and practical skills to construct the models out of various materials.

Through this assignment, the Year 8s have had first-hand experience of the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM). They’ve applied their knowledge of the Physics of energy (heat) transfer to the real world (energy efficient housing).