Solar Town

Time Required
1 class period
Students will construct solar powered structures and explore circuits.
Slide Deck


This activity introduces students to basic circuitry and to how energy flows through a system. Students will work individually to build their own Solar Houses, then join together to connect them into a Solar Town. Students will also engage in the Solar Scavenger Hunt to understand how solar panels work and how to make them operate most efficiently. Students will apply this knowledge and use basic electrical engineering skills to design and build an electrical system that is powered by their solar panel.

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • ETS1.A Defining and Delimiting an Engineering Problem
  • ETS1.B Developing Possible Solutions
  • ETS1.C Optimizing the Design Solution
  • ETS1.3
  • ETS1.2
  • PS3.A Definitions of Energy
  • PS3.B Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer

Cross Cutting Concepts

  • Cause and Effect
  • Patterns
  • Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World
  • Energy and Matter
  • Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology

Learning Objectives

At the end of the lesson students will be able to

  • Know the fundamental parts of a windmill
  • Be able to use the scientific method to isolate and adjust variables in a model windmill
  • Understand energy conversions and transfers, and how a windmill converts moving air into usable mechanical energy
  • Have constructed a functional windmill that lifts weights


  • AA battery pack
  • 2 AA batteries
  • 2 feet of uncoated wire
  • 2 white LEDs
  • 2 colorful LEDs
  • 2 index cards
  • 1 foot of aluminum tape
  • 1 solar panel
  • 1 motor
  • 1 motor wheel
  • 1 switch
  • 1 pair of clamp wires
  • scissors
  • clear tape
  • wire stripper
  • multimeter

Additonal Teaching Resources