Spaulding Greenhouse

Environmental Science and Engineering

This template supports STEM teachers and librarians in working collaboratively to create  lessons that build science practice and STEM inquiry skills in alignment with state and national science standards, and that address the Common Core literacy shifts around close reading and building textual evidence.

Lesson Abstract

This lesson introduces students to the processes and procedures of building a biogas generator. This is the start of a yearlong project for the students of Spaulding High School to design a biogas generator that would produce enough energy to heat a 1,000 sq ft greenhouse.

Identify Lesson Themes & Essential Questions

Lesson Themes

  • Accuracy in Measurement
  • Evaluating Biogas Energy Source
  • Sustainability
  • Collaboration and Community

To Do

E.S.= Environmental Science  (lesson plans background leading up)

  • A review of the biochemical cycles learned in prerequisite Biology courses
  • “Don’t Waste the Waste” - This lesson was developed by Ohio State University.  Students will create a model digester and in the process learn about anaerobic digestion and biogas production/collection.

E = Engineering    (Lesson plans leading up)        

        A Students competent in CAD (9/8/15- 9/15/15)

        B Students competent in Engineering Design Process and systems (9/15/15-9/17/15)

        C Background in Environmental Science   (9/20/15-9/23/15)

        D Start design process for Biogas system

To Do

Is biogas a viable solution for heating the greenhouse?

What type of energy sources do people around the world have available to them?

What is biogas and how is it generated?

What type of equipment is needed to generate biogas?

What are the costs associated with set up and maintaining equipment?

Can the efficiency of biogas generation be increased?

STEM Inquiry Standards

To Do

For each STEM subject you will address, select  at least  2 STEM  content and  2 inquiry  practice  standards that your lesson will target, and enter them below.

E = Engineering Competencies

Understand the methodologies and engineering disciplines as applied to the fundamental skills associated with the engineering design process.

Understand the interaction of multiple disciplines and the underlying principles of engineering.

Understand the impact engineering has on society.

NH State Science Standards:

S:SPS1:12:2.1 Identify the theoretical basis of an investigation and develop a prediction and a hypothesis that are consistent with the theoretical basis.

 S:SPS1:12:2.2 Evaluate and select appropriate instruments for collecting data and evidence in an investigation.

Standards for the 21st Century Learner:

1.1.1 Follow an inquiry-based process in seeking knowledge in curricular subjects, and make real-world connection for using this process in own life.

1.1.5 Evaluate information found in selected sources on the basis of accuracy, validity, appropriateness for needs, importance, and social and cultural context.

2.1.1 Continue an inquiry-based research process by applying critical-thinking skills (analysis, synthesis, evaluation, organization) to information and knowledge in order to construct new understandings, draw conclusions, and create new knowledge.

2.2.1 Demonstrate flexibility in the use of resources by adapting information strategies to each specific resource and by seeking additional resources when clear conclusions cannot be drawn.

Select Your Common Core Anchor Standards

Determining central ideas or conclusions

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text's explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text.

Related ResourcesCommon Core State Standards for English Language Arts

Write Your Learning Objectives

To Do

Tie your learning objectives to the specific standards you want to address by answering: What must the student know and be able to do to meet the content standard? Enter your learning objectives below.

Learning Objectives

Environmental Science

A pretest will be given that will cover the major concepts involved in the project.

The test will cover the topics in the pre-requisite learning section.

  1. One of the primary inquiry components will be designing an experiment that will determine the combination of organic input that will yield the highest efficiency of methane production. The other major inquiry component will be the designing of the system itself. Students will strive to refine the system design so that it generates the most methane for the least amount of cost.

2.  Students working on this project will develop data collection and analysis skills that will allow them to support their conclusions with evidence.


  1. By demonstrating their understanding of system loops, Students will design a sustainable system to heat a greenhouse.
  2. Students will show their competencies by demonstrating their ability to solve real world problems using the Engineering design process.
  3. Upon completion students presentation will demonstrate an understanding of how engineering impacts society.

 Related ResourcesTips for Writing Student Learning Outcomes - IUPUI

Anchor Text

To Do

Biogas Opportunities Roadmap

URL of Anchor Text:

Text Dependent Questions from Anchor Text:

  1. What is biogas?
  2. What is the process of converting organic material into biogas?
  3. What are some of the benefits of biogas? What are some of the faults of biogas?
  4. How is biogas a cost-effective option?
  5. How does it impact the community?

Choose Supporting Texts

For each STEM subject addressed, add the name of your supporting texts and their URLs below.       

 STEM Subject  Title of Supporting Text                   URL of Supporting Texts
 EngineeringTime for design
 EngineeringWhat is engineering design?
 Environmental ScienceEvaluating Biogas as an Option to Heat an Urban Greenhouse
 Environmental ScienceThe Production of Methane from Anaerobic Decomposition of Garbage and Waste Materials

Related Resources

Build & Organize the Text Set

Your text set should provide opportunities for students to build knowledge about a topic or subject through analysis of a coherent selection of strategically sequenced, discipline-specific texts.

To Do

Consider how the anchor text and the supporting texts should be sequenced within the lesson to develop necessary skills. In the table below, organize your texts into a sequence that represents how you want to develop students’ knowledge in line with your identified learning objectives.  

 Text Sequence for Lesson/Unit      Learning Objectives
1.Design process Understand how to follow the design process
2. Enclosed loop systems Understand how systems work, specifically gas and fluid systems.
 3. Environmental EngineeringUnderstanding of how environmental conditions affect all of us and the role engineers play in solving real world problems.
 4.Connection to real world opportunities
 5.CAD Design

Direct Learning Through Student Tasks

To Do

Identify how you will direct learning through questions and inquiry, and how these questions relate to your team's overall essential question(s) that unifies learning across texts and disciplines. Your questions should facilitate rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts through a sequence of specific, thought-provoking questions. Determine your text-dependent questions and enter them below.

To Do

Develop your formative assessment strategy. Consider how and to what extent your methods of formative assessment elicit direct, observable evidence of student learning in targeted CCSS skill areas. Enter your formative assessment strategy below.

E = Engineering Formative Assessment

Students will assessed by direct observation in the following areas

  1. Safety in the design and building processes
  2. Professionalism rubric (staying on task, working with others, ect.)

Students will  formatively assessed by writing in the following areas

  1.  Step by step procedures
  2. Problem solving

Related Resources

Develop Your Culminating Learning Experience

To Do

Develop your summative tasks with your team, and answer: How will the culminating tasks provide for summative assessment of the standards targeted and the skills and knowledge developed during the lesson? Enter your summative assessment(s) below.

E = Engineering Summative Assessment

Students will assessed summatively by demonstrating…...

  1.  Successful design and construction of a system from their research. Professional blueprint plans, step by step guide instructions, and 3-d model and 3-d prototype.  All projects will have a summative rubric attached.
  2. Presentation of their final design to both classes and Rochester community Presentation will be videotaped and published within their google site professional portfolio.  (presentation rubric)

Related Resources

Consider Pre-Requisite Learning

To Do

Collaboratively with your team, make a list of the background knowledge and prerequisite skills that your students will need to succeed in the lesson/unit. Enter your list below.

        A Students competent in CAD (9/8/15- 9/15/15)

        B Students competent in Engineering Design Process and systems (9/15/15-9/17/15)

        C Background in Environmental Science   (9/20/15-9/23/15)

        D Start design process for Biogas system

To Do

Use the following guiding questions to develop your pre-assessment approach with your teaching team:

  • How might students’ background and skills be pre-assessed to determine their readiness for learning?
  • How will the pre-assessment reveal gaps in students’ knowledge in alignment with our selected standards and learning objectives?
  • How will we use pre assessment data to revise our teaching and challenge students at an appropriate level?       

Enter your pre-assessment approach below.

  • Formative assignment designed for proficiency in Autocad using tutorials and small Auto CAD drawings.  
  • Formative assignment on problem solving and enclosed loops systems.
  • Students will be given multiple assignments and abilities to reassess if needed.  Instruction is multifaceted including hands on demonstration, verbal and written instructions.  

 Related ResourcesPre-Assessment Strategies

Organize Instructional Activities

To Do

Determine with your team the sequence of your instructional activities. Use the following, guiding questions:

  • How should major instructional activities be sequenced to provide a coherent progression of learning?
  • How are learning activities designed and sequenced to develop students’ literacy and emphasize the key areas of focus (shifts) in instruction?
  •  In what ways does the instructional sequence prepare students for the summative assessment?

 List your instructional activities below, organized sequentially. Add notes about length of time for each activity, or for the lesson overall, as well as the preparation and materials needed for each activity. Consider adding notes about specific strategies for diverse learners including those who are ELL, have disabilities, or read well below (or above) the grade level text band.

This lesson introduces students to the processes and procedures of building a biogas generator. Students will start with a general overview of the issue that needs to be resolved. We need enough sustainable energy to keep a greenhouse running year-round. This will start with lessons surrounding all available energy options, but looking most specifically at biogas. Students will be given the anchor text,

and complete our text specific questions. Students will examine what option is best for the specific needs of Spaulding High School and the community.

  1.  Students competent in CAD (9/8/15- 9/15/15)

Class discussions and demonstration of components in Autocad, How to use it successfully, Students have 1 week to practice hands on experience with the program.  Formative assessment is given daily along the way with a final formative assessment of the individual student as well as the class.  Once everyone is competent we move onto step 2.

        2.  Students competent in Engineering Design Process and systems (9/15/15-9/17/15)

Class discussions and demonstration of the systematic Engineering Design Process, How to use it successfully, Students have 1 week to practice hands on experience with the daily small problems designed not for an outcome but for practice using the format.  Formative assessment is given daily along the way with a final formative assessment of the individual student as well as the class.  Once everyone is competent we move onto step 3.

        C Background in Environmental Science   (9/20/15-9/23/15)

        Students will explore various topics in environmental engineering.  Class discussions will be engaging and relate to real world problems.  Students will be assessed on their engagement and final writing assignment demonstrating their understanding of Environmental engineering and how it impacts everyone.  (writing rubric)

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