Concentrated Solar Power

Contributor
Teach Engineering
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Experiment/Lab Activity , Assessment Item
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

This resource provides background information about photovoltaic cells, has class discussion and assessment materials, and then incorporates all of those components into a laboratory activity in which the students determine the optimal angle of a reflector so as to obtain the maximum power output from a photovoltaic cell. The engineering iteration process is a key component of this resource.

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • High School
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

HS-PS3-3 Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on both qualitative and quantitative evaluations of devices. Examples of devices could include Rube Goldberg devices, wind turbines, solar cells, solar ovens, and generators. Examples of constraints could include use of renewable energy forms and efficiency.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment for quantitative evaluations is limited to total output for a given input. Assessment is limited to devices constructed with materials provided to students.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This is a very thorough resource that emphasizes the iteration process.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
The resource is very clearly focused on having the students determine the optimal angle of a reflector that will produce the maximum output of a photovoltaic cell. However, the activity allows students to explore what affect other variables have on the power output. The instructor may want to have their students explain why they made their reflectors the way they did and as well as what modifications they made to their reflective devices.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
The resource is very clearly focused on having the students determine the optimal angle of a reflector that will produce the maximum output of a photovoltaic cell. The instructor will not need to add anything to the lesson to meet this practice.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The resource embraces the Disciplinary Core Idea. However, the instructor may want to provide background information to the students, or have them research on their own, how solar panels convert solar energy into electricity.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The instructor may want to have a conversation about what aspects of the system were changed for each group and the differences it created in optimizations. Students could discuss other variables that impact the system in a "real world" situation or that they didn't have the materials to model/replicate.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This resource requires students to collect data during the iteration process and therefore fully embraces the NGSS because the lesson provides students the opportunity to use the Practices of Designing Solutions and Interpreting Data; the Disciplinary Core Idea of using solar cells to create electricity; and the Cross Cutting Concept of Cause and Effect as they design, build, test, and modify their reflectors to produce the maximum amount of power from their solar cells.

  • Instructional Supports: This resource provides background information on photovoltaic cells for both the instructor and students, materials for class discussions, and lab worksheets.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The resource provides lesson plans for the instructor to use in leading class discussions which will help monitor student progress. In addition, the resource requires the students to construct, and test a device and then share and discuss their results with other groups. The construction and testing of the device provides direct, observable evidence of students’ performance of practices connected with their understanding of core ideas and crosscutting concepts.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: There is no technological interactivity component to this resource.