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Using Solar Energy

Student Worksheet

In this activity, you will demonstrate how solar energy can be used to heat water.

  1. Refer to Figure 1 as you set up your experiment.
  2. Pour water into a flask to a depth of about 2 inches.
  3. Insert a thermometer into the opening of a 1-hole rubber stopper.
  4. CAUTION: Do not try this step until your teacher has demonstrated the proper technique.
  5. Insert the 1-hole rubber stopper containing the thermometer into the flask. Make sure the flask is sealed and that the bulb of the thermometer is in the water.
  6. Place the sealed flask in a sunny window, or about 1 inch away from a 150-watt light source.
  7. NOTE: Use the light source only if sunlight is not available.
  8. Record the temperature of the water at the beginning of the experiment and every 10 minutes thereafter. Enter the temperature readings on the data table found below.
Time Temperature Reading
10 min.
20 min.
30 min.
Observation: What happens to the temperature of the water during the course of the experiment?

Drawing Conclusions / Analysis
  1. What are some possible uses for solar energy? Look at the results of your experiment to help you answer this question.
  2. Why is solar energy safer for the environment than energy obtained from fossil fuels?
  3. Describe other alternate energy sources. List the advantages and disadvantages of each. Use resources in your school library and the Climate Change exhibit to help you answer this question.
  4. Solar energy is now being used in some places to generate electricity. Research where and how this is done.
  5. Design an invention that can be powered by solar energy. Describe how it would work.