Solar Energy and Other Alternative Energy Sources

Solar Energy

We ask the students whether they can think of alternative sources of energy other than "out of the wall" and "out of a battery". Some will suggest wind power or hydro power which we explain with the turbine / generator demonstration. If the students suggest solar power, we pull out an example of a solar cell (bought at any Science and Nature / teaching shop). Our solar cell is attached to a motor that spins a coloured wheel. On a sunny day we expose it to the sunlight and watch the wheel spin, but if there is not enough sunlight an overhead projector will suffice.

A quarter of the energy from the sun that reaches the lower atmosphere is transformed into wind, which we saw transformed into electricity with the turbine and generator. Other forms of solar power include heat engines, solar-thermal electrical devices, and photo voltaic devices such as the solar cell demonstrated above. Many of these systems focus the sun's energy onto a point and this energy is collected and stored.

Most alternative energy sources produce electrical energy. This is great for most stationary applications, but is not easy to store in large quantities. For energy in transportation a light-weight energy source is needed. Most fuels are transportable and have high capacity. An alternative fuel source for the future is Hydrogen fuel. This can be burned as a fuel or used in a cell to produce electricity. It has a high potential for storing energy and its only byproduct is water.

Piezoelectric Strip

This is amazing technology. The demonstration consists of a small piezoelectric strip connected to a light bulb. Ask the students how they think the light bulb can be powered. Rubbing it against something? In actuality, all that needs to be done is bending. By bending the material, electrons are excited creating a current which lights the bulb.

Make sure to ask the students what they think this technology can be used for!


-do this in a darkened room or against a solid, dark background


P/N : 2-1003759-0

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