Archive

Solar Tracker Arduino Project

Overview: This device keeps a flat panel holding a solar cell continuously following the sun as it moves across the sky. The Arduino uses 2 light dependent resistors (LDRs) that are separated by a fin to compare the light levels on either side and then rotate the servo attached to the panel towards the more illuminated LDR until the two detectors are equal. This is a nice Arduino project which combines sensors with servos, with logic that can be tuned, and has a practical application relating to clean energy. Background: Solar panels generate the most electricity when the incoming light is perpendicular to the panel. A...

Solar Energy Data Exploration

Overview: Students examine patterns in direct and diffuse radiation. Students compare generation from the solar panels to the absolute insolation. Students perform a cost benefit analysis for a home energy system Investigations with Solar Data lesson Essential Question How can we precisely measure the amount of solar radiation that is available for solar generation? NGSS Standards: Standard Number Standard text 4-PS3-2 Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents. HS-ESS2-4 Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate. HS-PS4-5. Communicate technical information about how some technological devices use the...

Photovoltaic Characterization Lab

Overview In this lab you will measure the current versus voltage for several photovoltaic cells using computer probeware.  The cells are tested under varying resistance loads and varying light levels. Essential Question How can you compare the efficiency of two solar cells and determine the peak power? Background Solar cells produce different voltages and currents depending on the light levels and resistance in the circuit. How can you tell what the peak power of solar cell is? This is the method that researcher use to measure and compare the power from various solar cells. It uses a simple technique with computer probeware to measure the current/voltage curve of a...

Luminescent Solar Concentrator

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text] Overview: This maker project demonstrates how fluorescent materials can be used to make a new kind of solar panel. [caption id="attachment_5066" align="alignright" width="276"] A model luminescent solar concentrator.[/caption] Essential Question: Can we make a device that collects diffuse radiation and concentrates it for electrical generation? Background: A luminescent solar concentrator (LSC) is a transparent piece of plastic or glass that has a fluorescent dye or quantum dots embedded or painted on it. The dye absorbs light and then fluoresces creating a glow that propagates by total internal reflection to the edge of the sheet where the light is absorbed by a narrow solar cell. This is a promising technology because...

Solar Circuits

[vc_row][vc_column][mkd_section_title title="Solar Circuits" title_size="large" title_color="" title_text_align="" margin_bottom="" width=""][vc_column_text]Students can learn a lot about solar cells by playing around with simple circuits. You can build your own solar exploration kit with inexpensive materials purchased online. After you collect your materials keep them together in a box (Solar Circuits Lesson)[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="30px"][vc_hoverbox image="18214" primary_title="" primary_align="left" hover_title="QUESTION" shape="square" el_width="30" align="left"]Is it possible to build an affordable solar exploration kit at home?[/vc_hoverbox][vc_empty_space height="40px"][mkd_accordion style="boxed_toggle" el_class="GLOWING COLORS"][mkd_accordion_tab icon_pack="" title="Background"][vc_column_text]The most common photovoltaic is the silicon solar cell.  A single cell has a dark blue front side with a grid of thin current collecting wires and solid conductive back. A single...

Print a Solar Car

[vc_row][vc_column][mkd_section_title title="Print a Solar Car" title_size="large" title_color="" title_text_align="" margin_bottom="" width=""][vc_column_text]Student use their makerspace tools to build a solar car chassis.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="30px"][vc_hoverbox image="18215" primary_title="" primary_align="left" hover_title="QUESTION" shape="square" el_width="30" align="left"]How can we use 3D printing to make an experimental solar car?[/vc_hoverbox][vc_empty_space height="40px"][mkd_accordion style="boxed_toggle" el_class="GLOWING COLORS"][mkd_accordion_tab icon_pack="" title="Background"][vc_column_text]One of the most popular classroom activities conducted by The Clean Energy Ambassadors has been the solar car derby. Student experiment with different arrangements of solar panels on different car chassis. By the end of a busy event we found our cars were often wrecked. Motors broke loose, leads ripped from motors, and clip leads lost. Also we found students...

Electrochemical Chameleon

[vc_row][vc_column][mkd_section_title title="Electrochemical Chameleon" title_size="large" title_color="" title_text_align="" margin_bottom="" width=""][vc_column_text]By Katie Corp - Schlenker Research Group Students experiment with acidity of solutions and then use electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen and observe changes in the solution.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="30px"][vc_hoverbox image="18210" primary_title="" primary_align="left" hover_title="QUESTION" shape="square" el_width="30" align="left"]How can water be split into its simple elements?[/vc_hoverbox][vc_empty_space height="40px"][mkd_accordion style="boxed_toggle" el_class="GLOWING COLORS"][mkd_accordion_tab icon_pack="" title="Background"][vc_column_text]One way to produce hydrogen gas and oxygen gas for energy storage is water splitting via electrolysis. Electrolysis is a process of using an electrical current to drive a chemical reaction that would otherwise not happen, or is non-spontaneous. In this lab, we will electrolyze normal tap...

Solar Car Derby

[vc_row][vc_column][mkd_section_title title="Solar Car Derby" title_size="large" title_color="" title_text_align="" margin_bottom="" width=""][vc_column_text]Students design and assemble model solar cars and race them on a track.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="30px"][vc_hoverbox image="18287" primary_title="" primary_align="left" hover_title="QUESTION" shape="square" el_width="30" align="left"]What design makes the fastest solar car?[/vc_hoverbox][vc_empty_space height="40px"][mkd_accordion style="boxed_toggle" el_class="GLOWING COLORS"][mkd_accordion_tab icon_pack="" title="Background"][vc_column_text]A solar car captures solar energy with solar cells, converts the energy to electricity that powers electric motors. In a large scale it’s very difficult to capture enough energy from the roof of a car to power a vehicle. One example is the 3000 km World Solar Challenge in Australia in which 1000 Watt solar panels power very light efficient vehicles with minimal battery...

Renewable City

[vc_row][vc_column][mkd_section_title title="Sustainable Town Model" title_size="large" title_color="" title_text_align="" margin_bottom="" width=""][vc_column_text]This free-form activity challenges elementary students to create a physical model of a sustainable town that includes energy production from renewable sources, energy storage and distribution in a grid. Students can use printed cut and fold templates for common structures or build their own from scratch.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="30px"][vc_hoverbox image="18252" primary_title="" primary_align="left" hover_title="QUESTION" shape="square" el_width="30" align="left"]What does it take to make your town sustainable?[/vc_hoverbox][vc_empty_space height="40px"][mkd_accordion style="boxed_toggle" el_class="GLOWING COLORS"][mkd_accordion_tab icon_pack="" title="Background"][vc_column_text]Some define sustainability as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Often this includes the use...

Draw a Circuit: Fun with Graphite

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=".vc_custom_1713215921953{padding-bottom: 20px !important;}"]Students explore the conductive properties of graphite and graphene as they create simple circuits.[/vc_column_text][mkd_accordion style="boxed_toggle"][mkd_accordion_tab icon_pack="" title="Question"][vc_column_text]Can thin layers of graphite conduct electricity?[/vc_column_text][/mkd_accordion_tab][mkd_accordion_tab icon_pack="" title="Background"][vc_column_text]What we call “pencil lead” is actually a substance called graphite, which consists of many stacked sheets of carbon atoms. Like a metal, graphite is conductive and therefore can act like a wire on paper to create the circuit. Each sheet of carbon atoms is bonded in honeycomb structure and the single layers are known as graphene (see picture on front page or toy model; also if available, look under microscope at a real graphene flake!). These...

Absorption and Fluorescence with USB Spectrometer

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text] Overview: [caption id="attachment_4862" align="alignright" width="297"] A USB spectrometer measures light that passes through a solution in the cuvette.[/caption] Students explore how different materials absorb and emit light, then measure spectra with a desktop spectrometer. Essential Question: How do we measure the absorption and emission of light? Background: Light travels from here to there like a really fast bullet. When we see a light turn on, there are particles of light called photons that travel from the lamp to your eye. Light goes so fast that in one second, light travels 180,000 miles! That's traveling across the US 72 times in one second!  All light is made of photons, when a...

Solar Spinner

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Build a device from a solar cell, motor and petri dish. It demonstrates conversion of solar energy to electricity and then to mechanical energy.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height="30px"][vc_hoverbox image="18217" primary_title="" primary_align="left" hover_title="QUESTION" shape="square" el_width="30" align="left"]How do we build a toy that uses solar energy to make it spin?[/vc_hoverbox][vc_empty_space height="40px"][mkd_accordion style="boxed_toggle" el_class="GLOWING COLORS"][mkd_accordion_tab icon_pack="" title="Background"][vc_column_text]The front of the solar cell is connected to one wire of the motor, and the back is connected to the other. This makes a complete circuit. It is very important not to let the leads that come from the top of cell to touch the tape coming from the bottom of the cell...