Solar Scavenger

Time Required
2 class periods
Students will explore how solar panels work through experimentation and a scavenger hunt.
Slide Deck


Students will learn about some of the main variables that determine what can be powered by a solar panel. Solar panels can be hard to understand, as they appear to be powering things but it's not clear how and why they work. By gathering both quantitative and qualitative information, students will get a better idea of how solar panels work, where they work best, and what variables affect their productivity. Students will use a tool called a multimeter to read the exact voltage and amperage of a solar panel, which will help them measure, understand, and compare the information they gather during the hunt.

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • PS1.A Structure and Properties of Matter
  • PS2.A Forces and Motion
  • PS3.B Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer
  • ETS1.B Developing Possible Solutions

Cross Cutting Concepts

  • Energy and Matter

Learning Objectives

At the end of the lesson students will be able to

  • Understand and be comfortable with basic electrical concepts and terminology
  • Know the fundamental aspects of a solar panel and understand how placement and orientation affect its power output
  • Be able to use a multimeter to measure voltage and amperage in order to collect data
  • Use the scientific method to isolate and understand solar panel variables
  • Build teamwork skills during the investigation and experiment process


  • Solar panel (2V 400mA)
  • Multimeter
  • Assorted LEDs
  • Assorted incandescent bulbs (ie reused Christmas tree bulbs)
  • Solar motor
  • Pair of clamp wires
  • Screw hub and acorn nut
  • Pencil
  • Tape measurer
  • Wire stripper
  • Small Phillips head screw driver (for the teacher only)
  • Adjustable work lamp that can handle 150 watt or higher incandescent bulb
  • Protractor
  • Print out of the Solar Scavenger Hunt Kit worksheet

Bonus materials to supply:

  • Compact fluorescent bulb for lamp
  • LED bulb for lamp