Solar Water Heater

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.

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Landon B. Gennetten
Lauren Cooper
Malinda Schaefer Zarske
Denise W. Carlson
TeachEngineering from Integrated Teaching and Learning Program

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Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips

Educator would ideally also draw connections to students' lives and personal energy use.

Educators may want to omit specific heat calculations particularly for non-physics students.

The metal storage tank would be more efficient if made of plastic; gluing to metal is more difficult.

The copper rods in Plan B need a more thorough explanation (Copper rods increase heating surface area).

Time needed for this activity might not be commensurate with the intended learning for this activity - educator might assign the construction as a term project.

Literacy and Resources