Designing a Solar Phone Charger

Car Charger Schematic
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Intended Grade Level(s):
Learning Goal(s):

1. Students will be able to design a device that can charge a phone with 4 hours of sun a day. 2. Students will use collected data and be able to support their design – i.e. the data will show that the unit will produce enough energy to charge a phone given it receives 4 hours of sun a day. 3. Students will also be able to calculate efficiency from their power calculations. 4. Students will be able to compare efficiencies of their circuit to others tested in this unit. 5. Students can calculate how much energy 4 hours of sunlight can produce on the solar modules they will use.

Lesson Number:
Pedagogy & Practice:
Estimated Activity Length:
5 hours
Relevant Common Core Standard(s):

This is the culminating activity for the unit “Off the Grid.” Students will be given some restricted parameters around which to design a solar powered battery operated phone (or other USB device) charger. They will charge the AA battery packs that have been using throughout the unit using photovoltaics, and then hook these battery packs into their USB charging device (for a phone, bike light, etc.). This process requires that they combine background knowledge such as voltage and current requirements for their devices they are charging, the function of boost and buck converters, and the correct construction of circuits. Included at the end of this lesson is a written assessment for the entire unit. 

Other Material(s) Used:
Assorted PV modules, buck and boost converters, heat shrink tubing, wire strippers, various battery packs and batteries, pelican or other waterproof case(s), USB current/volt meters, USB powered device