Solar Updraft Towers Lesson 4: Let's Build Our Wind and Solar Energy Toy

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Lisa Morgan
Intended Grade Level(s):
Estimated Activity Length:
3 hours
Learning Goal(s):
  1. Students will determine that thermal energy resulting from the sun’s radiation can create an updraft that will power a turbine to spin.                                                
  2. Students will identify characteristics of turbine design that improve the success of their device.
  3. Students will utilize content from previous phenomena they investigated, such as the chimney stack effect and Norwegian candle toys, to determine how to best harness the energy transformed by their device from the sun.
Next Generation Science Standard(s) Met:

Students will combine what they learned in previous lessons using their investigations of convection-related phenomena to design a device that will convert light energy from the sun into thermal energy and utilize the resulting convection currents. Their primary objective will be to design a device that uses energy from the sun when placed on a sidewalk to spin a turbine similar to the one they designed for their Firefly in the previous lesson.

Other Material(s) Used

• Tin cans with tops and bottoms cut out • paper cups • Paper: black, white, and colored • Foil pieces • Plain paper • Paper clips • thumbtacks and needles • Tape • Small metal caps• 250W halogen work lights