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BRANDI LEGGETT

3-5 | Science & Tech | Real World Application or Field Study

Station KCPT in Kansas

My Classroom Innovation

This project focuses on solar energy. The students built a stronger understanding of how the sun works by tracking shadows to tell time, creating a sun dial, tracking sun versus shade, solar energy absorption in dark and light colors, building and racing solar cars, testing photovoltaic cells, creating solar ovens, testing UV radiation with various sun screens and sun beads, creating sun prints, solar water heaters and decorating pot holders for families in Darfur and Mali to help protect their hands against solar energy when using solar cookers.

The project was innovative because everything was hands-on for the students. They were able to apply what they learned with the PBS resources through real-life applications. After the students viewed the projected article, “How do Solar Panels Work?” by Stephanie Chasteen and Rima Chaddha, they designed and built solar cars so they could see how the solar panels worked with solar energy. They also tested photovoltaic cells to better understand how they converted sunlight into electricity. This article was used to educate students on the components of solar cells.

After learning about ultraviolet radiation in the article You & Me & UV, the students tested the effectiveness of five different types of sun screen on sun beads. They wanted to see if the sun screen was effective enough to protect against the solar energy. After learning about solar ovens in the You & Me & UV, Solar Oven article, the students created their own solar ovens for a solar cookout. The students made nachos, pizza, apples, and smores. They also tested different types of solar ovens to see which one was the most effective style for cooking. Both of the articles were used to build knowledge for the students and provide procedures for implementing the activities.

How Students were Engaged

The project engaged students because they were able to immediately apply what they were learning in the PBS articles and resources. Instead of us just talking about what they learned, they were able to go out and apply it by their creations. For example, they learned about solar ovens, then built their own and had a solar cookout. After learning about UV radiation, they used sun beads to conduct their own experiments on five different types of sun screen to see how effective it was. When studying solar cells, they built solar cars and interacted with photovoltaic cells. Everything was hands-on where the students could instantaneously see how things they were learning in solar energy applied to the real world.

The students showed an increase in learning through the write ups of different investigations and when they communicated their findings and discoveries. With the UV radiation investigation, the students were able to explain why they would or would not purchase various sun screens. They were able to use the sun bead as evidence, explaining how if it changed color, they knew it wasn’t very effective. This was something they were not able to do previous to this investigation. Many students were unaware you could use solar energy to boil water and cook food. By creating their own solar ovens, they were able to try solar pizza, solar apples, solar nachos, and solar smores. They were also able to see how the earth rotated because they had to continuously rotate their solar ovens throughout the day to make sure their food properly cooked.

When the dark blue dyed water absorbed the most heat, they were able to transfer what they had learned in another lesson about how dark absorbs heat and white reflects it because of their hands-on investigations.

PBS Program/Content Used

LPB : You & Me & UV-Solar Oven