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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

How Solar Cells Work

Lesson Description:
HowSolarCellsWorkStudents will be able to:
  • Describe energy as the ability to cause motion or create change.
  • Describe how the parts of a photovoltaic cell work and how photovoltaic cells can convert the sun’s rays into electricity.
  • Generate a graphic representation of a photovoltaic cell to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of its parts and processes.

Lesson Type:
  • Experiment
  • Project

Sustainability Topic:
  • Energy

GEF Program Category:
  • Green Energy Challenge

Time Needed:
60 minutes
Standards Addressed:
Science Standard 9: Understand the Sources and Properties of Energy
  • Benchmark # 1: know that energy is a property of many substances (e.g., heat energy is in the disorderly motion of molecules and in radiation; electrical energy is in the attraction or repulsion between charges).
  • Benchmark # 4: know how the sun acts as a major source of energy for changes on the earth’s surface (i.e., the sun loses energy by emitting light; some of this light is transferred to the earth in a range of wavelengths including visible light, infrared radiation, and ultraviolet radiation).
  • Benchmark # 11: understand the origins and environmental impacts of renewable (e.g., solar energy) and non-renewable resources, including energy sources like fossil fuels.
Technology Standard 6: Understand the Nature and Uses of Different Forms of Technology
  • Benchmark # 3: know that most technological systems require an input of energy, which is an important consideration both in designing an object or a system and in conserving energy (e.g., so many things require energy that alternative sources to fossil fuels should be used when possible).

Geography Standard 14: Understand How Human Actions Modify the Physical Environment
  • Benchmark # 3: understand the ways in which technology influences the human capacity to modify the physical environment (e.g., the effects of the introduction of electricity, combustion engine vehicles, chemicals and fertilizers).

Materials Needed:
  • A paved area
  • Chalk
  • Bell
  • 40-foot rope
  • "Solar cells materials and diagram" worksheet included below

School or Group:
Green Education Foundation (GEF)
Contact Email:
Lesson Documents:
application/pdf How_SolarCellsWork.pdf
Lesson Documents:
application/pdf How_SolarCellsWorksheet.pdf
Located in: Science | Social Studies

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