This activity allows students the opportunity to explore different methods for collecting solar energy and using that energy for heating, creating electricity and applying that energy to an industrial process. Experimenting with different types of materials will also allow them to understand how the properties of different materials can drastically affect the outcome of their experiment.
This unit takes students through several introductory lessons designed to gain a better understanding of the 'nano' scale as it relates to the creation of a (dye-sensitized) solar cell (DSSC). The introductory lessons guide students through activities covering volume, surface area and density and exploration of the relationship between these factors. The unit culminates with students building a Gratzel cell, a solar cell employing a layer of nanospheres of TiO2 as the semiconductor and blackberry juice as the light absorber in a non-Si-based solar cell. Students are able to build a small solar cell and test its efficiency.
Students in small groups conduct an investigation into the similarities and differences between solar tea and tea brewed by boiling water. Students will compare their two samples on four criteria—color, clarity, smell and taste—rate which they prefer, and graph the results of the experiment as a class.