School Projects on Solar Heaters
- Build a solar heater hot box to demonstrate the greenhouse effect, which traps the sun's heat. Use two shoe boxes and glue layers of cardboard to the sides and bottoms of the boxes for insulation. Glue aluminum foil to the bottoms of the boxes. Paint the inside of one box black, and leave the other as it is. Cover the tops of the boxes with clear plastic, secured with duct tape. Place the hot boxes in direct sunlight and take temperature readings every minute for 20 minutes. Record your results and plot two separate graphs for each box. Plot time on the X axis vs. temperature on the Y axis. Based on your observations, conclude why one box may get hotter than the other.
- Conduct a research project on whether solar heaters are worth the effort for your house. Determine how much money it would cost to have a collector system installed in your house, and then how long it would take to pay that cost off. Keep in mind that solar energy is free once the collector system is installed, while other means to heat your home, such as gas and electric, cost money over time. Research the cost to the environment of heating your home with gas and electric versus using solar energy, such as the depletion of coal, gas and oil reserves. Present your findings to your classmates and discuss the benefits and drawbacks to solar heating.
Natural Water Heating
- Design a water heating system that uses solar energy to heat water. For this project, you will need a 1-inch thick, 2-by-4-foot Styrofoam insulation panel, three thermometers, three plastic bags of three different colors including black, white and a color of your choosing. Cover the large side of the Styrofoam with aluminum foil, secured with tape. Clip a hole large enough for a thermometer to fit through at the bottom of each plastic bag. Fit the thermometer halfway through each bag and tape the bag around the thermometer. Pour 2L of water into each of the bags. Squeeze out any excess air and tie it closed. Trim extra plastic from the top of the bag. Place your covered Styrofoam panel in direct sunlight, with the colored solar collectors on top of the panel lined up side by side. Record the temperature of the water in each bag at start, after 15 minutes and after 30 minutes. Plot your results on a bar graph with the X axis color vs. the Y axis temperature. Observe which bag kept the water hotter than the others and which kept the water cooler.
Solar Water Panel
- Test materials in a solar panel for efficiency. Determine what materials will absorb the most heat: rubber, aluminum or copper. Make a solar energy collector using a shallow box with removable lib, and insulate with Styrofoam. Place copper within the solar energy collector and place the box in direct sunlight. Use a thermometer to record the temperature inside the collector. Take the temperature every 5 minutes for 30 minutes and record your data. Repeat these steps for each material. Compare your data to determine which material is the most conductive. You may consider making a graph to compare your results.