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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

Solar Water Heaters

Lesson Description:
Students will discuss the concept of a passive solar water heater system and its components. Students will study how a solar water heater functions by making a simple, passive solar model and taking temperature measurements and recording and graphing their results. The teacher will question why a passive solar system would be desirable, compared to one using other energy sources, such as electricity or gas. Students will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of renewable and non-renewable energy sources.
Lesson Type:
  • Discussion
  • Experiment

Sustainability Topic:
  • Energy

GEF Program Category:
  • Green Energy Challenge

Time Needed:
5 minutes 15 minutes 45 minutes activity 1 – teacher introduction activity 2 – assessment of current student knowledge activity 3 – vocabulary and reading passage homework assignment – vocabulary definitions science vocabulary reading language arts 30 minutes 30 minutes 10 minutes activity 4 – pre-lab activity 5 – lab part a: constructing the parabolic solar water heater part b: performing the experiment science 30 minutes activity 6 – post-lab science
Materials Needed:
  • copy of the Reading Passage and Student Data Sheets (includes reading comprehension questions, vocabulary and Lab Activity) for each student
  • copy of the Assessment Questions for each student
  • graph paper
  • an equipment kit for each group containing the following:
    • 40 cm of aquarium tubing, painted black
    • cardboard paper towel roll
    • 1 small sheet of aluminium foil
    • 1 pair scissors
    • 1 self adhesive fastener for binding holed paper (any office supply store)
    • 2 brass brad fasteners
    • 1 gooseneck lamp with 100 watt bulb (to represent the sun) or access to strong, direct sunlight
    • 1 Styrofoam cup
    • 1 tube of caulk (may be shared among the groups)
    • 1 collecting jar or small beaker
    • 1 pencil
    • goggles  

School or Group:
Contact Email:
Lesson Documents:
application/pdf No10 96-814B.pdf

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