Simple Solar Tracker

Solar Tracker
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Intended Grade Level(s):
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.

Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours
Relevant Common Core Standard(s):

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 opposes the other. Whichever array receives the most light will generate more voltage thereby driving a motor one direction or another. As the tracker rotates, the light incident upon each array equalizes. This circuit will be used as a springboard for discussion into the engineering design process, solar tracking and basic electricity and circuits.

Science Kit Material(s) Used:
2-Volt, 500mA Solar Modules
Other Material(s) Used:
“Simple Solar Tracker Reflection Questions” Handout • “Engineering Design Notebook” • Light source • DC gearhead motor • paper clips • Foam board • Red/Black braided wire • Hot glue • Copper wire • Popsicle sticks • wood blocks