Solar Fountains

Time Required
1-2 class periods
Students will design and construct small fountains that are powered by solar PV.


This activity demonstrates how solar energy is transformed into electricity that we can use. Students will use solar panels to power a small water pump and build a functioning fountain. In doing so, they will learn how a solar panel works, collect data and test variables, and apply their observations to their engineering process as they improve their designs.

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • PS1.A Structure and Properties of Matter
  • 2.PS1.2
  • PS3.C Relationship Between Energy and Forces
  • ETS1.A Defining and Delimiting an Engineering Problem
  • ETS1.B Developing Possible Solutions

Cross Cutting Concepts

  • Cause and Effect
  • Patterns

Learning Objectives

At the end of the lesson students will be able to

  • Know the fundamental aspects of a solar panel and understand how placement and orientation affect its power output
  • Be able to use the scientific method to isolate and adjust variables in a solar powered fountain
  • Understand power measurement and energy concepts, using a small water pump
  • Be able to use basic engineering, art and design skills to create a one-of-a-kind solar fountain


  • Trays
  • Plasticine
  • Water pump
  • Solar panel 3V 500mA (recommended size and power)
  • Small tube 1/8"
  • Medium tube 1/4"
  • Large tube 3/8"
  • Scissors
  • Water
  • Towel
  • Lamp (or good sunlight)
  • High wattage incandescent bulb (100 watts or higher)
  • Compact fluorescent bulb (optional)
  • LED bulb (optional)
  • Ruler
  • Protractor
  • Color acetate sheets (optional)
  • Alternative fountain building material such as plastic bottles, large basins for water, more plasticine, straws, etc.

Additonal Teaching Resources