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Introduction to Photovoltaic Systems
http://www.infinitepower.org/pdf/No18%2096-815B.pdf

Texas State Energy Conservation Office

This activity introduces students to the process of converting sunlight into electricity through the use of photovoltaics (solar cells). Students complete a reading passage with questions and an inquiry lab using small photovoltaic cells.

Activity takes about two 45-minute class periods. Additional materials are necessary.

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Topics

Solar Radiation
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Solar Energy
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Grade Level

High School (9-12)
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Activity could be modified to be used in a middle school environment.

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Sunlight reaching the Earth can heat the land, ocean, and atmosphere. Some of that sunlight is reflected back to space by the surface, clouds, or ice. Much of the sunlight that reaches Earth is absorbed and warms the planet.
About Teaching Principle 1
Other materials addressing 1a

Energy Literacy

Humans transfer and transform energy from the environment into forms useful for human endeavors.
Other materials addressing:
4.1 Humans transfer and transform energy.
Electricity is usually generated in one of two ways.
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4.5 Electricity generation.
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Various sources of energy are used to power human activities .
Sunlight, gravitational potential, decay of radioactive isotopes, and rotation of the Earth are the major sources of energy driving physical processes on Earth.
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2.2 Sources of energy on Earth.
Physical processes on Earth are the result of energy flow through the Earth system.
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Physical processes on Earth are the result of energy flow .

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:B) Designing investigations
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B) Designing investigations.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
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C) Collecting information.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:E) Organizing information
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E) Organizing information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:C) Energy
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C) Energy.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:D) Technology
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D) Technology.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues:C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action
Other materials addressing:
C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Light and other electromagnetic waves can warm objects. How much an object's temperature increases depends on how intense the light striking its surface is, how long the light shines on the object, and how much of the light is absorbed.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark
When selecting fuels, it is important to consider the relative advantages and disadvantages of each fuel.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Small photovoltaic cells must be purchased.
  • A digital multimeter can be used instead of separate DC ammeter and DC voltmeter.

About the Science

  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.
  • Students investigate the effects of light intensity and frequency on the generation of electricity from a solar cell and the effects of temperature on solar cell efficiency.

About the Pedagogy

  • Pre-activity reading comes with a worksheet of comprehension questions and a worksheet of important vocabulary for the lesson.
  • Data summary and assessment questions provided.
  • Additional follow-up lab is provided.
  • Answer key is provided for the educator for all parts of activity.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Lab activity has easy-to-follow directions; data tables provided for all variables that will be tested.

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