Cost Effective Solar Cells: Engaging with Solar Panels

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Intended Grade Level(s):
Learning Goal(s):
  1. Students will construct working solar panel arrays to power LEDs, fans, and music boxes
  2. Students will sketch models of working solar circuits
Lesson Number:
Estimated Activity Length:
3 hours

This lesson is designed to span 2 days with 80-minute sections. On the first day, the teachers will challenge the students to assemble circuits with solar panels that can power up 1) a motor with fan, 2) a music-playing circuit, and 3) an LED. Students will discover through trial and error circuits and solar panels that generate and utilize electricity. Teachers should encourage students to play and discover interesting new combinations and arrays. On Day 2, Teachers will demonstrate use of a multimeter, demonstrate series and parallel circuit diagrams and have students take measurements of voltage and current indoors and outdoors. Teachers should be familiar with the operation of a multimeter. Teachers should be familiar with the concepts of voltage, current, power, serial circuits, and parallel circuits for curious students. However, they will teach the concepts expressly in Lesson 3.

  • Day 1: Solar panel array construction, discovery and play
  • Day 2: Solar panel array testing and data gathering
Science Kit Material(s) Used:
1.5-Volt 500mA Solar Module
2-Volt, 500mA Solar Modules
3-Volt, 1A Solar Module
Other Material(s) Used:
• 18 small DC motors with fan attachments (1 per group) • 18 small-load music players (1 per group)