Find out how high school students can design and evaluate efficient and affordable solar power systems—even for their own school—in the November/December 2018 issue of The Science Teacher. Co-authored by Concord Consortium researchers Jie Chao, Charles Xie, and Corey Schimpf, with education consultants Joyce Massicotte and Jeff Lockwood, and Stoughton High School science teacher Craig Beaulieu, “Solarize Your School: A solar energy system design challenge” describes a 10-day engineering project using Energy3D and other free tools.
Current world map view of solar energy projects posted in the Virtual Solar Grid.
Students can create their own building design or use Google Earth Pro to measure existing building and rooftop dimensions (for example, their own school) and then use Energy3D to quickly model, analyze, test, and evaluate multiple solar power designs for performance. Does the tilt of solar panels affect energy output? Does roof structure impede performance? What are the budget constraints? Students can also view existing solar power projects worldwide using the Virtual Solar Grid and download Energy3D models of those projects.
Students learn about STEM concepts such as graphical interpretation and data analysis, modeling techniques, the path and angle of the sun, day and night cycles, as well as collaboration and communication. Classroom materials and a scoring rubric for evaluating student designs across multiple dimensions are available to teachers online.
Read the article for ways to connect the project’s materials, lessons, and activities to Next Generation Science Standards. And start solarizing!