Hands-on Activity: Racing with the Sun - Creating a Solar Car
Educational Standards :
Pre-Req Knowledge (Return to Contents)
Students should have completed the lesson "From Sunlight to Electric Current."
Learning Objectives (Return to Contents)
After this activity, students should be able to connect a solar photovoltaic panel to a motor and a run the motor forwards and backwards.
Materials List (Return to Contents)
JSS-KIT and JSS-ACC (solar car and accessory kit): The Junior Solar Sprint (JSS) kit and accessory kit may be bought separately from Solarmade with the following materials:
Introduction/Motivation (Return to Contents)
Cars are intrinsically exciting to many students. Solar-powered cars are even more so. Very little is required to motivate students to engage in this project. Discussing solar car competitions in which college students participate and providing some statistics about those solar cars and the challenges they face can be a good way to introduce this activity.
Vocabulary/Definitions (Return to Contents)
Procedure (Return to Contents)
Direct students to construct their cars in the following manner:
Also consider the following:
Attachments (Return to Contents)
Safety Issues (Return to Contents)
Troubleshooting Tips (Return to Contents)
If the motor is running backwards, reverse the wires.
If acceleration seems to be quite slow or the motor is not producing enough torque to get the car moving from rest, change the gear ratio.
Investigating Questions (Return to Contents)
Assessment (Return to Contents)
Questions: Ask students to answer the following questions in writing in order to gauge their comprehension:
Activity Extensions (Return to Contents)
If the teacher is interested, students may use these kits to compete in the Junior Solar Sprint competition sponsored by the National Renewable Energy Laboratories.
ContributorsRahmin Sarabi, Roni Prucz
Copyright© 2014 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2004 Duke University
Supporting Program (Return to Contents)Techtronics Program, Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University
Acknowledgements (Return to Contents)
This content was developed by the MUSIC (Math Understanding through Science Integrated with Curriculum) Program in the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University under National Science Foundation GK-12 grant no. DGE 0338262. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the NSF, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.