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Saved by the Sun
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/teachers/activities/3406_solar.html

Jeff Lockwood, NOVA Teachers

This activity features video segments from a 2007 PBS program on solar energy. Students follow a seven-step invention process to design, build, and test a solar cooker that will pasteurize water. In addition, they are asked to describe how transmission, absorption, and reflection are used in a solar cooker to heat water and to evaluate what variables contribute to a successful cooker.

Activity takes five to eight 45-minute class periods. Additional materials required.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

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.
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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 .

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
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C) Collecting information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
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A) Processes that shape the Earth.
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:2.3 Humans and Their Societies:B) Culture
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B) Culture.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.3 Humans and Their Societies:D) Global Connections
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D) Global Connections.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:D) Technology
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D) Technology.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:E) Environmental Issues
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E) Environmental Issues.
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
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C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Energy from the sun (and the wind and water energy derived from it) is available indefinitely. Because the transfer of energy from these resources is weak and variable, systems are needed to collect and concentrate the energy.
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

  • Given the nature and preparation of students, this activity can be a totally inquiry-driven investigation or the instructor can guide students toward a successful design.
  • Schedule the activity for a time when the sun is fairly high in the sky, such as early fall or mid- to late spring, particularly if you are in a temperate climate above 35 degrees N latitude.
  • Use of the associated NOVA video is not required/necessary for activity, but provides a wider context for solar energy.

About the Science

  • Students use a design prototyping and testing procedure to produce a solar oven capable of pasteurizing drinking water.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Uses a strong 7-step design process that models how engineers work. It is a hands-on, small-group, building activity that would be best done towards the end of a unit/lessons on solar energy.
  • This activity meets the needs of the Connecticut Grade 9 Embedded Task for CAPT.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The pictures and descriptions of sample solar cookers are helpful to guide teachers in their instruction and scaffolding of the project.
  • A comprehensive list of necessary building materials is provided.

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