Materials List: Design a Solar City

For the teacher demo during the Introduction/Motivation section:

  • mini solar PV panel
  • piece of foam core board, on which to tape the solar panel
  • 2 small alligator clamps
  • a single light, such as a small Christmas tree light or any individual bulb from a hobby/craft/electronics store that can be hooked up in the circuit
  • (optional) a voltmeter

Each group needs:

  • graph paper and pencils
  • measuring ruler
  • ┬╝-inch-thick foam core board, pre-cut into sets of wall and roof pieces that form variously-sized structures (different for each team), such as long skinny rectangular buildings, short squat rectangular buildings, tall skinny skyscraper buildings, big spacious warehouse buildings, little house-sized buildings, etc.; alternatively, for more advanced students, have them design and draw first, then cut out their own wall and roof pieces
  • cardboard, for plots of land; suggested size: ~24 x 24 in (~61 x 61 cm), however, size will vary depending on the size and shape of the building; cut from discarded cardboard boxes
  • acrylic paint and paint brushes, for painting foam core buildings and cardboard plot of land
  • mini solar PV panel; available online
  • duct tape
  • scissors
  • 2 small alligator clamps
  • light, small motor or buzzer, available at amazon, and at hobby or electronics stores such as Radio Shack; NOTE: be sure to purchase lights/motors/buzzers that are compatible with your solar panel; if your solar panels can output 3V, then the lights/motors/buzzers should be in the 1.5-3V range; if the solar panel outputs too much power, just cover some of the panel to decrease the power output, otherwise you may burn up the lights/motors/buzzers; however, if the solar panel cannot output the current required to power the lights/motors/buzzers then they will not work
  • Solar City Persuasive Letter Worksheet, one per┬ástudent

For the entire class to share:

  • newspaper, to protect table and desk tops from gluing and cutting
  • XactoTM knife (and blades) or utility knife or razor blade, for the teacher to use to cut foam core board
  • (optional) Foam Core Tips Handout
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks (model construction can take a lot of hot glue!)

Note: In this open-ended activity, as students begin to build, they may think of other materials they need, such as craft sticks, thin plastic sheets (or plastic beverage bottles), pebbles, Astroturf, etc.