This is a debate-style learning activity in which student teams learn about energy sources and are then assigned to represent the different energy sources. Working cooperatively, students develop arguments on the pros and cons of their source over the others.
The heart of this activity is a laboratory investigation that models the production of silicon. Students learn about silicon and its sources, uses, properties, importance in the fields of photovoltaics (solar cells/renewable energy) and integrated circuits industries, and, to a limited extent, environmental impact of silicon production.
In this 'Energy Education for the 21st Century' design challenge, students construct and evaluate a solar-powered model car. Students utilize the design process and undergo review by their peers to select an optimal gear ratio and components for their car. As a culminating activity, students compete in a Solar Sprint race modeled after the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Junior Solar Sprint competition.
In this activity, students explore what types of energy resources exist in their state by examining a state map and data from the Energy Information Administration. Students identify the different energy sources in their state, including the state's renewable energy potential.
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.
Student teams design and build solar water heating devices that mimic those used in residences to capture energy in the form of solar radiation and convert it to thermal energy. In this activity, students gain a better understanding of the three different types of heat transfer, each of which plays a role in the solar water heater design. Once the model devices are constructed, students perform efficiency calculations and compare designs.
Students investigate passive solar building design with a focus on heating. Insulation, window placement, thermal mass, surface colors, and site orientation are addressed in the background materials and design preparation. Students test their projects for thermal gains and losses during a simulated day and night then compare designs with other teams for suggestions for improvements.