Module Overview

Portable Electrical Power

Age Group

Middle School Students


Electrical Power

Completion Time

1-2 Class Periods

module introduction

From cell phones to laptops and electric cars to hoverboards, portable electrical power and lithium-ion batteries are part of students’ lives every day. They’re also the result of scientific inquiry and engineering.

This UL XplorLabs module encourages students to use scientific inquiry to engage with portable electrical power, teaching them how batteries convert energy, introducing the phenomenon of thermal runaway, and inspiring them to think like a scientist to identify essential construction and performance requirements that address the inherent risks a product could present. Students will develop useable knowledge to explain real-world phenomena by learning how to define a problem, build a solution, test a design, and analyze and extend results.

what’s in the module?

Each element of the module has been designed to supplement and enhance teaching methods whether they are used in full or in part, in the order below or in order of your choosing. For the best experience, we recommend beginning with the interactive video.

  • Interactive Video

    Video, 30 minutes

    An engaging interactive exploration of portable electrical power and the phenomenon of thermal runaway. Included in the video are four UL lithium-ion battery testing demonstrations. (Includes awesome explosions.)

  • Xtreme Testing

    Interactive Experience, 30 minutes

    A simulated set of tests that puts your students in the role of safety scientist, dropping and overcharging a hoverboard under various conditions to evaluate how well it holds up to the stresses and abuses of everyday life.

  • Hands-On Classroom Xperiments

    Independent Experiments, Class Period (x3)

    Investigate energy expressed as heat, evaluate materials according to the UL Safety Standards process and build a safe, durable hoverboard with these three hands-on experiments. Each experiment can stand alone, but we recommend completing all three.

  • Xtend the Learning

    Classroom Challenges

    Keep the learning going with creative classroom challenges.

connections to Next Generation Science Standards

The Portable Electrical Power module corresponds to the following Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

MS-ETS1 Engineering Design

MS-ETS1-1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.

MS-PS3 Energy

MS-PS3-1. Construct and interpret graphical displays of data to describe the relationships of kinetic energy to the mass of an object and to the speed of an object.
MS-PS3-3. Apply scientific principles to design, construct, and test a device that either minimizes or maximizes thermal energy transfer.
MS-PS3-5. Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object.

Common Core State Standards Connections

RST.6-8.3. Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks (MS-PS3-3), (MS-PS3-4)
RST.6-8.7. Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table). (MS-PS3-1).
WHST.6-8.1. Write arguments focused on discipline content. (MS-PS3-5)
WHST.6-8.7. Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration. (MS-PS3-3), (MS-PS3-4)
RST.6-8.9. Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic. (MS-ETS1-2),(MS-ETS1-3)

MP.2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively. (MS-PS3-1),(MS-PS3-4),(MS-PS3-5)

For a link to the NRC Practiced referenced here, please click here.