The Climate Team: Make a Solar Heat Engine

Learners investigate how solar energy is converted into heat in part two of the 10-part Discover Your Changing World series. They build and test homemade solar cookers to boil water and cook rice. Pupils consider the impact of heat capacity on the solar cookers' efficiency and learn about the effect different climate patterns have on the ability of solar energy to reach Earth's surface. 

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CCSS: Adaptable
NGSS: Designed
Instructional Ideas

  • Use as an introduction or an extension activity for a lesson on alternative sources of energy
  • Have small groups compete in a solar cook-off and invite school or community members to participate
Classroom Considerations

  • Needs materials not found in a typical classroom
  • Requires use of sharp tools
Pros

  • Engaging, hands-on activity
  • Easy to connect to a variety of earth science topics
Cons

  • None
Common Core