The days of experiments in a science classroom bring back a certain nostalgia. Excitement fills the room as students jump at the opportunity to get some hands-on experience; a nice break from their note taking. While STEM activities are fun, some may find it a burden when designing their lesson plan. Setup, cleanup, incorporating it with your curriculum – it seems too complicated. Bringing STEM to your classroom through experiments doesn’t have to be complicated; with activities featuring the power of solar energy and electricity, you can provide a plethora of learning opportunities.
Experimenting with solar energy is simple since the sun is a commodity available anywhere during school hours. No extensive field trips, no thorough prep – a solar panel is a potent teaching tool accessed on campus. While solar energy is most obviously suited to teach about renewable energy and sustainability, the potential for lessons branches out way beyond an energy unit. Solar panels can be used as an addendum to supplement many experiments – electricity, physics, chemistry – providing hours’ worth of lecturing in minutes of interactivity. Using solar panels with electricity kits, or integrating solar cars in your curriculum, initiates hands-on learning that gives your students a deeper understanding of content while simultaneously keeping them engaged.
Activities allow our students to truly explore, empowering them to think creatively, and critically. Integrating STEM benefits everyone – not just the engineer, mathematician, or scientist. It also reinforces leadership and responsibility. For these long-term rewards, there are short-term barriers – as an educator, your time is limited. You shouldn’t be satisfied with a STEM activity that calls upon a great amount of your time. You should be able to bring STEM learning to your classroom immediately.
Searching for STEM Activities?
With solar4STEM, we can offer you STEM solutions for your classroom that reinforce learning, respect your time, and save you money. The solar4STEM family of products includes solar panels enabling discovery while lasting for years to come. With electricity kits that setup in minutes and are straightforward to use, students are quickly exposed to a world of knowledge. Our STEM products come with prepared experiments ensuring seamless addition to any unit. We can help you envision success powered by STEM tailored to your needs. Achieve greater success by applying the benefits of STEM into your lesson plans.
The next generation of renewable energy lies increasingly in research in one field – solar energy. Solar’s growth is unparalleled, providing broad career opportunities. We know that solar energy is an educational topic that students should be exposed to early on. So how can we introduce solar power to students early on?
Here are 5 solar power experiments you can try at home!
1. Solar Oven
2. Solar Updraft Tower
1. Tape together three, large, empty, clean tin cans, with the tops and bottoms removed.
2. Create a wire arch (made from an unbent paper clip) and tape it across the opening of the top can.
3.Tape a thumbtack or straight pin to the center of the arch, pointing up.
4. Place the cans on top of a couple of books, to allow air to flow in from underneath. Make sure the books are separated and the can sits on them from two sides to allow airflow between the books.
5. Create and decorate a pinwheel: https://bit.ly/1C5tHTV
6. Balance the pinwheel on top of the thumbtack, taped side down.
7. When placed in the sunlight, the heat from the sun will warm the air inside the cans, creating a convective updraft, and will spin the pinwheel.
3. Water Desalination
You will need:
4. Solar Heated Home Design (STEAM Experiment)
5. Sun Print Tote - (STEAM Activity)
Looking for more ways to explore solar energy?
The solar4STEM family of products contain quick, convenient, and affordable supplements to fit perfectly into curriculum standards in a timely manner. With experiments already developed, our science kits remove the burden of lengthy after-hours setup, reinforcing a lesson plan for your needs.
The last thing teachers, parents, and educators want are un-engaged students due to a boring and detaching classroom atmosphere. There is a strong potential to involve and invigorate the learning spirit every day: through experiments promoting STEM skills.
Making the grade should be hassle free, awarded to both students and faculty as a tribute of their commitment. solar4STEM is one educational product line we’re using to help you ignite passion for science in and beyond classrooms.
We provide the instructions for experiments, saving you lesson planning time so you can focus on giving opportunities of a lifetime to students. Allowing them to design, build, and test on an independent or collaborative basis with peers offers a sense of accomplishment.
Why not invest in tools to advance this goal?
More information about how you can use solar4stem to help you educate your students can be found here.
Most people are aware STEM is an educational movement involving science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum in schools across the nation. Most educators acknowledge STEM is a better way to educate practical and technical skills for tomorrow’s future. Policy growth in STEM fields has led to shifting public perception. There is a pressing need to bridge a skills gap from theoretical comprehension to effective application.
Lawmakers are taking necessary strides toward fulfilling the goals of STEM proliferation, with Florida Governor Ron De Santis at the helm: “propos[ing] over $36 million for workforce training and industry-specific programs” and “…also provid[ing] the direction in highlighting the need for more skilled workers to meet new and growing opportunities in aviation, aerospace, and related high-tech industries” as of March 2019 .
STEM education is the key to our future. In a world driven by technology, there is an evolving
need for innovative technologies and solutions to practical problems. Taking up interest in STEM pushes
As a result, the demand for more engagement in STEM is rising. For their dedication, students should be entitled to resources helping them grow into their fields of interest. solar4STEM is one of many companies eager to help provide the tools for student success. At CME, we developed solar4STEM to be introduced in schools to bridge the STEM gap.
STEM’s benefits don’t stop at scientists or mathematicians: all students should be given the tools for achievement provided by STEM learning. Providing cooperative work and problem solving through rigor, the practical application of STEM extends to all students in regaining waning interest.
Hands-on and project-based learning through STEM engages students, creates enjoyment for learning, and pushes teachers, students, and schools toward academic success.
Educators and private companies are taking steps to increase skills and capabilities for students. solar4STEM allows for experiments and hands-on experience, while also teaching the importance of energy independence and environmental experience. Providing outlooks on electrical, magnetic, and solar experiments, solar4STEM offers insightful experiences for students of all ages to witness science working in action, while cohesively working with nature.
From a student perspective, focusing strictly on theory day-to-day is tiring leading to burnouts from schoolwork.
Seeing the excitement light up faces of young minds in a classroom at mention of a lab or experiment is delightful and exciting! A passion to learn and investigate is truly what we should be seeing more of. Students, teachers, parents, educators, school officials, and industry can fix this problem plaguing the world through cooperation.
Students and teachers can make adventures in STEM our new reality – CME has the capacity for providing these STEM solutions for all sizes and types of classrooms, inside or outside. You can view our STEM products and gauge your potential at our website.
CME’s 21 years of experience in manufacturing and giving back to the community is experience we want to put to work in helping envision STEM solutions for the future. solar4STEM is a great tool that can be used within classrooms, and we are continuously working on new ways to introduce STEM to soaring minds.
 James, Nicole (March 26, 2019) “How Ron DeSantis is Shaking Up the Establishment” Florida Today (https://bit.ly/2F3jXkN)
1. Talk more about women in STEM
In several studies, when children were asked to draw a mathematician or scientist, girls were twice as likely to draw men as they were to draw women. Boys almost universally drew men, often in a lab coat. Subconscious images of males in STEM start at an early age. This may be one explanation why girls enter STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—at dramatically lower rates than boys.
2. Provide Engaging STEM Activities
One way to get girls excited about STEM is to actually make STEM fun to learn. Hands-on application of textbook learning will help with getting girls engaged and passionate about STEM.
One way to incorporate Hands-on learning with STEM curriculum is with STEM Kits.
You can see our interactive STEM kits here.
3. Reinforce the statement "Girls can"
Too often women are excluded in the conversation about historical scientists and engineers who have contributed to the STEM field and society. Start to incorporate more female STEM role models int he STEM discussion to enforce the idea that girls can have a STEM career.
Below are examples of women in STEM:
Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson is an African-American mathematician. Her calculations as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first U.S. manned spaceflight!
Roberta Bondar was the first female astronaut in Canada. She was also the first neurologist in space! She spent over a decade as NASA's head of Space Medicine.
“I want to reach girls and tell them they don’t have to limit themselves to traditional jobs, like teachers. Especially for girls from my community, they have a very limited idea of what’s out there,” Ms. Bakarian says. “I want to become an example.”
4. Encourage girls to describe themselves differently: "Inventive" vs. "Creative"
We limit the way girls perceive themselves when we use words like "creative", or "sensitive". Instead of calling her "creative" or "imaginative", try "inventive" or "determined". While she may have all of these attributes, when we use words that re-enforce positive mechanical, intellectual, and hands-on skills that girls posses - we give them the confidence to purse those skills further and develop them.
While calling her picture "creative" might inspire her to draw another, by saying she is "inventive" and encouraging a physical development of that drawing - you can help her realize her ability to create, design, and invent. Small phrases can influence the way girls perceive themselves, and can potentially have an impact on whether or not they envision themselves as a "girl who has the skills for STEM".
5. Show Girls Where STEM Exists in The Workplace
Two Days of Fun In The Sun!
solar4STEM hosted a booth at the St. Petersburg Science Festival on Friday, October 19th and Saturday, October 20, 2018, It was a humbling experience to educate, and speak with over 10,000 teachers, parents, and students. We were enthused to have the opportunity to educate our community about solar energy, and electricity, and in return we were greeted by the enthusiasm of the Tampa Bay science community.
Time and talent are two wonderful gifts that every community can benefit from. Through the hard work of our solar4STEM crew from last weekend, visitors that stopped by the St. Petersburg Science Festival were able to participate in free educational experiences.
Exhibit 5: A student asking Engineer, Adam Berezansky a question about the solar panel that powers the solar4STEM 50.
Solar energy is one of the few sources of energy that produces no carbon emissions and has the most potential for mass adoption. Solar power has been gaining momentum this past decade with the cost of solar panels dropping 60% since 2010. However, solar panels still face road blocks, like high cost, low efficiency, and space necessity, that make its future hard to predict.
Figure 1. 70,000 solar panels on Nellis Air Force Base (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Nadine Y. Barclay)
There has been a great effort in research and development in the past few years to create a more efficient and cost-effective solution. The solar panels currently being distributed are solar photovoltaic (PV) cells. They are difficult to manufacture, which is a big contributor to their high cost, and they are not as efficient, turning only 20% of light received into energy.
However, there has been a new breakthrough in solar energy research from a mineral called perovskite.
Figure 2. Perovskite Mineral, with pen for scale (USGS)
Perovskite is an amazing breakthrough in solar research, it can be made into an ink solution and painted or printed on objects to allow those objects to generate power. This means that all surfaces could potentially generate power! The use of perovskite will drive the costs normally associated with solar panels significantly down, which means perovskite may lead to a more affordable solar energy option.
This mineral is more efficient than the traditional solar panels used today, with a 22.7% efficiency rate and a theoretical maximum efficiency of 40%. Also, because this material is so thin we may be able to paint it onto existing solar panels to increase the overall efficiency.
Figure 3. Perovskite tin solar cells (Oxford University Press)
The draw backs of this mineral however involve the fragile nature of the material and its life span. Where traditional solar panels have a lifespan of years, this new material degrades in hours and days. This is one of the areas researchers are currently focusing. Extending the life span of perovskite panels would mean a cost effective alternative to expensive solar panels.
What can we expect in the future?
1. As more research and development is invested into solar technology there may be smaller, more efficient, and cost-effective solar panels in our future.
2. It’s possible we may see solar farms in space. The Japan Aerospace Space Agency is looking into putting solar panels on planets closer to the sun and transmitting the energy back to us on earth.
3. We may also be seeing solar cars in our future. Lightyear One, is a Dutch solar-powered car that is planning to produce the first 10 models in 2019.
4. Tesla’s SolarCity has been working on roof tiles with solar panels embedded in them for a more modern look to the traditional flat black solar panels.
Figure 4. Tesla Solar City roof tile (Tesla/SolarCity)
5. A French company, Ciel & Terre International, is working on floating solar panels for countries that don’t have the space solar panels require. They started their work in 2011 and are continuing to make progress towards a floating solar panel.
Ready to go solar?
There are plenty of solar panel options for you! You can purchase solar panels for your own home after consulting with experts.
If you have a child, you can contact their school to see how they are teaching your child and their generation about solar energy. Our solar4STEM 200 and solar4STEM 50 are perfect for educating kids about solar energy in an interactive way that kids love. Click Here to learn more.
What do you think the future has in store for solar? Let us know what you think in the comments below!