Solar Tracker Challenge

Solar Tracker
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Intended Grade Level(s):
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:
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour 30 min

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 by providing two current sources, the solar cells, which are wired to work against each other. The larger current will win over the smaller and their sum current will drive the motor attached to the scaffolding holding the solar modules. In this manner the modules will be rotated clockwise or counter-clockwise until they each are receiving equal intensity of light.

Science Kit Material(s) Used:
1.5-Volt 500mA Solar Module
2-Volt, 500mA Solar Modules
Other Material(s) Used:
Work lamps • 9V battery • DC powered fan • Popsicle sticks • Glue gun • Sticky back Velcro squares • DC motor • Wood blocks • White/black wire, stripped at both ends • Electrical tape • Masking tape