Constructing Solar Panels

Solar Panel Construction, Orientation and Use Unit

Grades:
9-12
Description:
For this extended task, students will track the sun's altitude and Azimuth to determine the best position for their hand-built solar panel, learn solar cell operation basics, solar panel construction, series and parallel circuitry and basic array sizing.
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Learning Goal(s):
Modeling and data analysis
Pedagogy & Practice:
Author:
James Mulanax
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
10 hours

Keeping it Cool With Solar Unit Plan

Grades:
K-2
Description:
Keeping It Cool With Solar unit asks the question: “How might we design a structure that will keep us cool on a hot day?” As an anchoring phenomenon, students will be shown a time-lapse video of an ice cube melting, and a second phenomenon of a solar panel...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on Earth’s surface. Students will plan and conduct investigations to determine whether structures made with various materials will keep objects cool when placed in a beam of light. Students will analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem in order to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs. Students will analyze data obtained from testing different materials to determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for keeping an object cool. Students will test if solar panels and solar energy can help cool down their structure.
Author:
Mark Lewin
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
4 hours
Outdoor Circuitry

Engineering with Renewable Energy: Solar Water Pumping

Grades:
4-5
Description:
Students will learn that energy from a renewable resource can be converted to electrical energy to do work by engineering a water pump system powered by the sun. They will compare the volume of water pumped by different designs and graph data collected and...
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Learning Goal(s):
The students will be able to learn what a solar cell looks like and how light energy triggers the cell to release negative charges to move toward the positive side, creating power as it moves from one side to the other. Students will be able to arrange four panels into the correct order to create power for an object and interact with a 3D model of a module to understand how the electricity to power the fan is created. The students will be able to experiment with solar panels (angle, direction) to power a small fan/LED light/circuit board. Students will be able to identify the best position/angle for maximum power. Students will apply scientific ideas to design and test a solar powered water pump that moves water at the fastest rate. Students will experiment and build understanding of parallel and series wiring and how energy moves in these circuits.
Author:
Jamie Repasky
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours
Solar Tracker

Solar Tracker Challenge

Grades:
5-7
Description:
Students will build a simple circuit that can be used to track a light source. This circuit will be used as a springboard for discussion into the engineering design process, solar tracking, and basic electricity and circuits. The simple solar tracker operates...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students observe and replicate a simple solar tracker; learn basic electric circuits and terminology; reflect on possible improvements for solar tracker; and reflect on how the engineering design process is used daily.
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:
Author:
Jamie Repasky
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour
SODIS_UV Treament

Solar and SODIS: Creating Clean Water for the World

Grades:
5-8
Description:
According to Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley, the number one and two challenges for humanity are energy and clean water. This classroom activity will introduce students to a low cost, renewable technique that connects these two issues. During the activity,...
Energy Content:
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will be introduced to the range of microbes in the environment, understand the risks of “dirty water” and be able to explain how energy from the sun can purify water through the SODIS technique.
Author:
Jamie Repasky
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour
Solar Circuit

Using a Multimeter to Analyze a Solar Circuit: Measuring Current and Voltage—Calculating Power and Resistance

Grades:
6-12
Description:
Students will set up a simple circuit using a multimeter and a load resistor to measure the voltage and current in the circuit. Students will learn to use a multimeter, learn how to calculate power and be introduced to Ohm’s Law. This activity provides a good...
Energy Content:
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will understand that voltage is a measure of a difference in electric potential energy and that current is the rate at which charge flows through a circuit.Students will understand how to measure and quantify electricity. Students will become familiar with the relationships between the fundamental electrical quantities.
Author:
Emily Barrett
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour
Solar Circuit

Circuit Analysis With Solar Energy: Measure the Power Consumed by Various Devices

Grades:
6-12
Description:
Students will set up a simple circuit using a solar module and three small loads. They will then use a multimeter to measure the voltage across each load and the current through each circuit. Students will then calculate the power consumption and resistance...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will understand that voltage is a measure of a difference in electric potential energy and that current is the rate at which charge flows through a circuit. Students will understand how to measure and quantify electricity. Students will become familiar with the relationships between the fundamental electrical quantities.
Author:
Emily Barrett
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour
Solar Tracker

Simple Solar Tracker

Grades:
4-12
Description:
Students will be shown a working example of a solar tracker and asked to replicate the design based on their observations. The design incorporates four solar cells arranged in two arrays with each array reverse biased such that they generate a voltage that...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students observe and replicate a simple solar tracker. Students will learn basic electric circuits and terminology. Students will reflect on possible improvements for solar tracker. Students will reflect on how the engineering design process is used daily.
Author:
Pat Blount
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours

Constructing a Solar-Powered MintyBoost USB Charger

Grades:
6-8
Description:
Students will receive a background on solar energy, solar energy applications, and electrical circuit components. Students will then apply these concepts to a Home Energy Consumption worksheet and the construction of a Solar Module MintyBoost USB Charger,...
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Learning Goal(s):
Students will gain a background on solar energy and be able to apply terms such as solar modules, photovoltaics, and solar power. Students will gain a background on electrical circuit components and be able to apply terms such as capacitor, resistor, diode, alternating and direct current, amps, inductor, volts, and watts. Through the completion of the Home Energy Consumption worksheet, students will determine their family’s monthly energy consumption and calculate the monthly dollar cost for household items such as light bulbs, game consoles, and televisions. Students will demonstrate their understanding of solar energy and electrical circuits through the construction of a Solar Module MintyBoost USB Charger and a presentation of their own unique product that utilizes the solar charger.
Author:
Deb Frankel
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
10 hours
Arduino Angler Design

Illuminate Me: Merging Conductive Sewing, Technology, and Solar Power

Grades:
7-12
Description:
Light up your clothing using solar power! For this unit, students will attach thin, flexible solar modules to a bike helmet and recharge NiMH rechargeable batteries for a renewable energy battery pack. The rechargeable batteries will be used to light up...
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Learning Goal(s):
1. Students will design and sew a wearable circuit using conductive thread. 2. Students will program a wearable microcontroller to light up garment with bright LEDs. 3. Students will incorporate solar power into a wearable garment project by recharging NiMH batteries for a renewable energy battery pack. 4. Students will apply knowledge of circuitry and energy transfer to maximize design.
Author:
Kristy Schneider
Estimated Activity Length:
10 hours

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