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About the resource
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Division 4

Shining a Light on Solar Energy: Division 4 (Grades 10-12) Lessons

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Lesson Summary

How do solar photovoltaic cells convert photons to electric energy?

Create an effective explanation of how solar photovoltaic cells convert photons to electric energy.

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In this lesson, students develop understanding of the process that converts photons to electric energy in photovoltaic cells. To begin, students rate the effectiveness of explanations of common daily tasks and processes. Students use these rating to co-develop the criteria for an effective explanation. Next, students examine explanations of how solar photovoltaic cells convert photons to electric energy. Guided by information about the key steps in the conversion process, students use the criteria for an effective explanation to rate each explanation. Students deepen their understanding of the conversion process by reworking ineffective explanations to better meet the criteria. To conclude the lesson, students create an effective explanation of the conversion process for a non-science audience.

What is the optimal position for a school rooftop solar PV array?

Develop recommendations for the optimal position for a solar array on a school rooftop.

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In this lesson, students expand their understanding of the design principles of efficient solar energy systems. To begin, students examine a photograph of a school and suggest the optimal position for a proposed rooftop solar array. Students use their suggestions to identify and explore the three factors that determine the optimal position for a rooftop solar array. After making observations of a school building, students use the three factors to develop recommendations for the optimal position for the rooftop solar array. To conclude the lesson, students identify the optimal position on the school rooftop for a solar PV array.

In an optional extension to the lesson, students design and conduct an experiment using a light intensity probe to determine which factor most affects the efficiency of a PV array. Students use their findings to determine the optimal position on the roof for the solar PV array.

Where is the optimal location for a utility-scale solar energy project?

Create an annotated map to show the optimal location in Canada for a utility-scale solar energy project.

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In this lesson, students develop understanding of the geographic factors that influence the efficiency of solar energy systems. To begin the lesson, students make an initial decision about the best location in Canada for a large-scale solar project. Students are then introduced to the geographic factors that influence the efficiency of solar PV cells. Students use these factors to reconsider their initial decision about the suitability of the potential locations. Using data related to the geographic factors, students rate each location. The lesson concludes with students creating an annotated map to describe the optimal location for a utility-scale solar energy project.

Is installing a school solar PV energy system a wise idea?

Rate the desirability, feasibility, and effectiveness of school solar PV systems.

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In this lesson, students use information, calculations, and datafrom various sources to rate the desirability, feasibility, and effectiveness of school solar PV systems. To begin the lesson, students assess a proposed hyperlink transit system. Students use their decisions to develop the criteria to assess innovative products or projects. Students explore a sustainability report and perform calculations to gather evidence that can be used to rate the desirability, feasibility, and effectiveness of school solar PV systems. The lesson concludes with students using their evidence and the criteria to judge the wisdom of installing a school solar PV system.

Which vehicle is better for the environment: electric or gasoline-powered?

Use a “dashboard” to rate electric and internal combustion-powered vehicles.

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In this lesson, students examine strategies that can be used to address the environmental impacts of electric and internal combustion-powered vehicles. To begin the lesson, students develop the criteria to determine which type of vehicle is better for the environment. Students then identify evidence that could be used to support or refute conclusions about the environmental impacts of electric and internal combustion-powered vehicles. Using calculations, students explore how solar energy can be used to offset emissions and energy used to power vehicles. To conclude the lesson, students determine which type of vehicle is better for the environment.

Which type of solar PV cell is best?

Determine which type of solar PV cell is best suited for various applications.

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In this lesson, students learn about the features and characteristics of the four main types of solar PV cells. To begin the lesson, students develop the criteria to determine the suitability of solar PV cells for various applications. Students then use the criteria to identify the distinguishing features and characteristics of the four main types of solar PV cells. Using this information, students decide which type of solar PV cell is best suited for various applications. To conclude the lesson, students identify a potential innovative application for one of the types of solar PV cells.

What might sustainable solar-powered housing look like?

Design a sustainable solar-powered home suitable for your community.

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In this lesson, students learn about the features and characteristics of sustainable solar-powered homes. To begin the lesson, students examine images of houses to determine the distinguishing features and characteristics of sustainable solar-powered housing. Students use these ideas to co-develop the criteria for a sustainable solar-powered home. Students then deepen their understanding of sustainable solar-powered homes by analyzing home design contest winners. To conclude the lesson, students then create illustrations or models of sustainable solar-powered housing suitable for their community.

How adequate is the evidence?

Assess the adequacy of the evidence used to support conclusions made about various methods of generating electricity.

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In this lesson, students judge the evidence used to support conclusions made about the various methods of generating electricity. Students begin by exploring the differences and relationships between evidence, reasons, and conclusions. They then examine the criteria for assessing the adequacy of evidence. Students use the criteria to assess the validity of evidence used to support conclusions about various methods of generating electricity.

Micro- or utility-scale solar generation: which is best for Alberta?

Identify the most significant similarities and differences between micro- and utility-scale solar power electricity generation.

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In this lesson, students learn about the advantages and challenges of micro- and utility-scale solar energy electricity generation. To begin the lesson, students examine examples from communication, agriculture, finance, government, and utilities to understand the characteristics of micro- and utility-scale projects. Students then use these characteristics to identify the most significant similarities and differences between micro-scale solar energy electricity generation and utility-scale solar energy electricity generation. Reflecting on these similarities and differences, students decide which form of solar electricity generation would be best for Alberta.

Funded by Government of Alberta

This project was funded by the Community Environment Action Grant program.