Grade : 8th -12th
Earth Science, Environmental Science, Physical Science, Physics and
Author : Don
Vincent, Madison West High School, Madison, WI
Time for this activity : Several class periods
Understanding : Both India
and the United States are running out of fossil fuels. Learn more regarding
solar energy in India at http://www.self.org/shs_tech.asp .
Both countries are producers of CO2 a greenhouse gas (Figure 1). Both
countries need to look ahead to the future before it is too late.This
activity illustrates how an alternative energy (solar) can be produced
and used in a classroom.
The solar potential in the United States and India varies from state
to state. India receives on average about 300 clear sunny days in a
year. This is equal to over 5,000 trillion KWh/year, which is far more
than the total energy consumption of the country. Both countries could
benefit from solar energy as an alternative to fossil fuels. Solar
cells convert sunlight directly into usable electric energy.
development in India began in the mid 1970’s.
The solar photovoltaics program funded by the Government of India is
one of the largest in the World. The United States and other countries
have advanced the processing of making silicon, which is vital to solar
energy. In India the major player is Central Electronics Ltd.
They have found a growing market for solar energy products. Other companies
are finding encouragement from the Indian government. Electricity
and social development go hand in hand. Rural areas of India are so
remote that in some cases the utilities have decided not to lay down
conventional electricity lines. The reasoning is twofold: the small
populace to be served and the high cost of laying electrical lines.
Solar energy is clearly a decentralized energy source and an efficient
means for producing energy for India ’s rural base.
at http://library.abb.com/GLOBAL/SCOT/SCOT292.nsf/VerityDisplay The
New Energy Conservation Bill (2001) includes promoting innovative financing
of energy efficiency projects, including solar energy. The United States
could learn from India ’s approach to solar energy. By promoting
solar energy in schools, future generations will be able to fully understand
and capitalize on its potential. Asking students to compare and contrast
solar energy gain in the United States and India will heighten this
potential even more. In this activity, students will learn how
to measure voltage charged by a solar energy panel.
information for teachers :
will need to know how to read a multi meter, and make a graph of solar
energy gain. Students will learn how a solar energy panel works. Students
will understand how the time of day and the time of the year effects
solar energy. Students will communicate with students in India to compare
and contrast solar energy production. This activity will take several
Objectives : While
conducting solar experiments, students will be able to:
data from their solar experiment
2. Calculate the solar gain from month
to month and location to location
3. Operate a solar cell devise used
to generate electricity
4. Identify how a solar cell works
and contrast solar energy gain with students in India
6. Analyze the
difference between alternative energy in India with the United States The
students will study solar energy in India and Wisconsin. Harnessing
energy from the sun holds great promise for meeting future energy needs
because the sun is a renewable and clean energy resource. Fossil fuels
will eventually run out in India and the United States , and the future
of nuclear power is uncertain.
will be able to explain :
How a solar cell produces electricity.
Describe the basic electrical characteristics of a solar cell. Identify
how solar cells are used. Demonstrate applications to social, economic
and political issues in India and the United States.
Rationale : By
experimenting with solar cells, students discover an alternative means
of generating electricity that does not use fossil or nuclear fuels.
Solar energy is a renewable energy resource, while most electricity
production in Wisconsin and India uses nonrenewable resources such
as coal, natural gas, oil, and uranium.
Activities : Students
can research solar energy in India and Wisconsin and compare their
solar potential. In addition, students can study the effects of fossil
fuels and their damage to our world environment.
more at :
Monitoring Solar Input at Each School Site
Students in India and the United States will:
- Graph out daily, weekly, monthly and yearly solar energy input
- Conduct fieldwork investigations using portable laptop computers,
to record and analyze the solar data
- Utilize graphing software to illustrate the amount of solar energy
- Record and display solar energy data at their school
- Operate a light sensor probe to measure percentage of sunlight
- Compare and contrast solar energy data that they have collected
with other sites
- Analyze their results to determine which site has greater solar
- Use the internet to communicate the data collected
Steps to Measure Solar Energy
Divide the class into pairs and distribute a solar cell to each pair.
Remind students to be careful with the cells since they are fragile.
Have students attach wires and a stiff backing to the cells if necessary.
Show students that PV cells can generate electricity. Ask each
pair of students to attach the two wires of the solar cell to the
end of the small DC motor or a small flashlight bulb. Then have them
put their cell under a bright, directional light source or in sunlight.
Students may attach a small card or disk with a swirl-shaped pattern
to the shaft of the motor so they can see the motor spin more easily.
You may need to review with them how to measure current and voltage
using multi- testers.
students summarize the results of their experiments and discuss
their findings You may want to record the results of each
findings on the chalkboard. Can students
explain how a solar cell works? Can students accurately describe
the electrical characteristics of a solar cell? How well did
students perform the experiments?
Content Standard Science Standard E - Earth and
Students in Wisconsin will demonstrate an understanding of the structure
and systems of earth and other bodies in the universe and of their interactions.
Content Standard Science Standard F - Life and Environmental Science
Students in Wisconsin will demonstrate an understanding of the characteristics
and structures of living things, the processes of life, and how living things
interact with one another and their environment.
Content Standard Science Standard C - Science Inquiry
Students in Wisconsin will investigate questions using scientific methods
and tools, revise their personal understanding to accommodate knowledge, and
communicate these understandings to others.
Science, Earth and Space, Performance Standards E Grade 12
Energy in the Earths Surface
E. 12.1 Using the science themes, distinguish between internal energies (decay
of radioactive isotopes, gravity) and external energies (sun) in the earth's
systems and show how these sources of energy have an impact on those systems
E.12.4 Analyze the benefits, costs, and limitations of past, present,
and projected use of resources and technology and explain the consequences to
F.8.8 Show through investigations how organisms both depend on and contribute
to the balance or imbalance of populations and/or ecosystems, which in turn
contribute to the total system of life on the planet
F.12.8 Using the science themes, infer changes in ecosystems prompted by
the introduction of new species, environmental conditions, chemicals, and air,
water, or earth pollution
C.8.3 Design and safely conduct investigations that provide reliable quantitative
or qualitative data, as appropriate, to answer their questions. Extension
Activities/Discussions: For additional activities, students could do
- Evaluate the effects of solar energy on social, economic and political
issues in India and the United States
- Build a miniature solar home and explain your design considerations
- Determine the effect of different types of insulation materials on heat
- Design a homemade solar powered desalination device
- Build a solar tracking device for a solar cooker.
- Determine which passive solar collector absorbs the most heat
Another activity involves challenging students to build a motorized object,
such as a fan, a blender or a model race car, using the motor powered by the
solar cell. Students can organize a contest or exhibition to show their inventions.
For example, if they build cars, they may want to race them in a competition.
There is a national organization called Junior Solar Sprint (JSS) that helps
teams of students from middle schools build and race model race cars powered
by the sun.
The students are provided with kits that include
a motor and a photovoltaic panel. The body of the car, wheels and transmission
are made from any other materials. The race is run on a 20-meter runway equipped
with guide wires to direct the movement of the cars. For more information
contact: Education Office, NREL 1617 Cole Boulevard, MS 1741 Golden, Colorado
80401 or call 1-800-NEW-ENGY(1-800-639-3649).
Web site: http://wwwtion/SprintWeb/SprintWeb
your students do a web quest on solar energy in India or India ’s impact
on global warming: read the following paragraphs and then have them start
their search at http://www.climatehotmap.org.
The web site also includes the complete list of scientific references. Developing
countries like India and the United States are not obliged to make any cuts
in greenhouse emissions under Kyoto . But as India raises living standards
their emissions will increase. India 's emissions are estimated to have risen
by more than 50% in the 1990s. India
recognizes that many of its one billion people will be vulnerable to the
effects of climate changeand ratified the Kyoto Protocol in August 2002.
But with India's economy and population, like China's, continuing to grow,
it is clear that the thorny issue of developing country emissions commitments
will have to be tackled soon in future rounds of negotiations Energy
conservation has emerged as one of the central issues in India in recent
years. Per capita energy use in India is relatively low at 479 kg oil equivalent
(kgoe) and fossil fuels are still the dominant source of energy. The country
faces the enormous task to increase availability of commercial energy to
a large part of its population; about 70 percent of rural households are
not yet electrified. India ’s
demand for commercial energy in 2020 is expected to increase by about 2.5
times from today’s level. Coal accounts for about 50% of primary commercial
energy today and is expected to further increase its share. At the same time,
energy intensity in India , is substantially higher than in countries at
a similar development stage.
Curriculum Guide for the Climate Impacts Map http://www.climatehotmap.org/curriculum/index.html
BBC News http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3143798.stm
Solar Photovoltaics in India http://www.indiasolar.com/SPV.htm