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Solar Energy

Environmental Literacy and Inquiry Working Group, Lehigh University

This activity comes at the beginning of a sequence of activities in an energy module. Students observe the transfer of solar energy to different appliances with a solar cell and then they investigate the effect of using different solar sources to supply energy to appliances.

Activity takes about one to two 90-minute lab periods, depending on students' familiarity with building circuits.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Students should have previous experience wiring circuits and be familiar with the differences between series and parallel circuits before completing this activity.
  • Could be used in technical schools that focus on engineering or could be used informal education.

About the Science

  • This lesson is from a 6-week instructional sequence on energy resources. The entire sequence can be found here: http://www.ei.lehigh.edu/eli/energy/sequence/index.html.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Very good information presented and mostly in a way that won't get out-dated. Strong connection to basic scientific principles. Good hands-on activity for science classes.

About the Pedagogy

  • Students investigate solar energy with a combination of watching video clips and building their own photovoltaic cell to power several small appliances.
  • Assessment requires a log in, so is protected against students going online to look up answers.
  • Does not offer a lot of inquiry, as it is 'cookbook style.'

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Photovoltaic Cells video clip seemed to end early as if the entire clip wasn't loaded all the way.
  • Pictures of wiring in instructor and student handouts may help students who have not had much experience with creating different types of circuits.
  • Lab kits must be purchased (wires/ photovoltaic cells/ light bulbs/ music box/ fan / etc.), which may be a major limitation for some schools.
Entered the Collection: December 2012 Last Reviewed: April 2016

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