Fabulous Resources for Energy Education
Resources: Solar Energy
Solar energy is a vital source in our everyday lives because it helps grow our food, influences weather patterns, provides heat, gives us light, and can even generate solar electricity. Solar energy is radiation from the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical energy. This energy can be tapped into and used as a cleaner, cost-effective way of providing energy in our everyday lives. A popular way that solar energy is harnessed is through solar panels, also called photovoltaic or PV cells.
Here at F.R.E.E. (Fabulous Resources for Energy Education), we offer great projects and materials to help students and individuals learn more about solar energy in order to be more aware of their environment and help make it better. Our popular KISS Solar Car Kits provide a simple way of understanding the use of solar panels and generating electricity. Below, see our complete list solar materials, activities and lesson plans available to you!
F.R.E.E. Solar Energy Materials:
KISS Solar Car Kits
(Keep It Simple Students!)
Students construct their own mini solar car and use it to learn about solar energy. They learn how the motor works, understand solar panels, and acquire knowledge on gearing systems while completing a fun activity. View the instruction manual (pdf) to find out what each kit includes. Available for Iowa educators to borrow (F.R.E.E. Loan Form) or for anyone to purchase (F.R.E.E. Store).
Folding Foil Ovens
Lightweight units reaching temperatures up to 250-300°F. All you need is your own cooking pot and we provide the oven and plastic cooking bag. Only available for Iowa educators to borrow through F.R.E.E. (F.R.E.E. Loan Form). To purchase, visit Solar Cookers International. Or make your own ovens by using these as a template! Simply trace them onto foil-faced bubble wrap sold in rolls for attic insulation.
Single Solar Cookers
A durable solar oven that can reach temperatures up to 315°F. This solar oven has multiple reflection panels and features a glass door to retain the heat. The oven is big enough to hold a pot or casserole dish. Only available for Iowa educators to borrow through F.R.E.E. (F.R.E.E. Loan Form). To purchase, visit Solar Cookers International.
Double Solar Cookers
Holds up to two 10’’ casserole dishes while reaching temperatures of about 250-300°F. The oven is easy to use – just put in the sun for two to five hours and your food cooks! You never have to worry about overheating, because this solar oven acts more like a crock pot keeping the heat at a moderate temperature. Folding reflecting panels are also included. Only available for Iowa educators to borrow through F.R.E.E. (F.R.E.E. Loan Form). To purchase, visit Solar Cookers International.
F.R.E.E. Solar Energy Activities and Lesson Plans:
Solar Energy Explorations at the CEEE
- Your students can use the solar PV panels at UNI's CEEE to do experiments, and collect their data online! See the video on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRyb3vwP4EI
- SEE Proposal - What is your research project? Fill out this form and send it in!
- Sample proposal - This was our first partnership, with North Tama MS
Solar Position and Path
- Solar photos from a can - Pinhole camera photos of the sun's path in Scandinavia
- Solargraph 1 - Detailed instructions for making a pinhole camera
- Solargraph 2 - Summary instructions for making a pinhole camera
- Solar camera slideshow - Examples of pinhole camera locations, what the camera "sees," and the resulting solar graphs
- Graph of sun's location for Cedar Falls - Altitude by azimuth graph based on data provided below
- Sun position Cedar Falls - Example of the data available from the U.S. Naval Observatory website
- Build a PV panel - A paper and pencil activity that explains how light is converted to electricity by a PV panel
- Solar Energy Explorations - Use your solar car to answer these three questions.
- How to Build a Solar Car - Instructional YouTube video
- Solar oven recipes – pdf
- What can I cook in a solar oven?
- Solar Squash Casserole and solar Squash Delight recipes
- Solar Candy Baked Apple recipe
- Solar Cooking Teacher's Resource