45 Minutes | 5th – 12th Grades
Students will have an opportunity to study solar energy as part of a larger overview of renewable energy sources. In this activity, students will get an overview of renewable energy sources, and will then focus on how solar electricity can be generated, stored, and utilized in homes, buildings, and other infrastructure. In groups of 2-4, students will build their own cardboard ‘homes’ with solar panels to produce electricity. The models will then be brought outside (or placed under a bright flood-lamp if weather doesn’t permit).
The energy generated from the solar panel will be transmitted through a voltmeter which will display a numerical value of the energy produced from the solar panels. This quantitative data will enable students to determine the optimal angle for maximum energy output. Students will then have an opportunity to examine why a particular range of angles work better or worse than others, and they will be able to use various materials in conjunction with the solar panel to observe any increases in effectiveness. Students will then be able to combine the materials they have used in order to maximize the energy output from the solar panel.
Note: This lesson is paired with the Snap Circuits activity.
Solar Panel Student Handout
Solar Energy Handout
Energy ID Worksheet
Snap Circuits & Solar Energy prezi
- 4-ESS3-1. Obtain information to describe that energy and fuels humans use are derived from natural resources and that some energy and fuel sources are renewable and some are not.
- 4-PS3-2. Make observations to show that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.