Passive Solar Water Heating

Solar Thermal Jug
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Intended Grade Level(s):
Learning Goal(s):

1. Students will cover/manipulate milk jugs to achieve the most solar energy absorption. 2. Students will calculate the joules of energy absorbed by the solar heated water. 3. Students will measure and graph the temperature changes of their solar milk jugs. 4. Students will gain an understanding of the amount of energy in sunlight.

Lesson Number:
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours
Relevant Common Core Standard(s):
Files Associated with this Activity:

Students retrofit milk jugs to absorb and retain the most solar energy. This process involves students collecting data that measures the impacts of different variables on the solar energy absorbed by each collection device. Students should be able to see patterns in both the absorption and retention of heat by various types of designs. During this activity, students will build background knowledge to help them apply these concepts on a larger scale in the proceeding lesson plans.

Other Material(s) Used:
• Thermometer for testing water (electronic probe thermometer recommended) • 1 milk jug with lid for each group of two • Black spray paint • Masking tape • Aluminum foil • Miscellaneous colored paper • Measuring pitcher • Graph paper