The Power of Solar Energy
Lesson 9: How Do Other Solar Schools Compare to Ours?
Teacher's Note: This lesson is appropriate only for schools that have a PV system installed as part of Sun4Schools.
- Students will compare performance of their school's PV system to another solar school by monitoring electricity output on the Internet and graphing information for both schools.
More than 20 states in the U.S. have solar schools programs. These schools are using solar energy both as an education tool and as a way to reduce energy costs and protect the environment. Some schools are using the sun to light their schools, others are generating electricity from the sun to power their classrooms, and others are heating water with solar energy.
Activity 1: Comparing Performance
Learn how your school's PV system compares with other solar schools in the nation.
- Divide the class into groups of four students.
- Ask each group to find a "partner" school with a PV of the same size (2kW), aiming for a wide geographic spread of partner schools. (Hint: you can find partner schools at such websites as:
- Each day for a specific block of time (two weeks or a month, for example) have each team find performance data (how much electricity, or kilowatt-hours, the system is producing as well as weather conditions, for their partner school and record the information on a line graph. Using a second line on the graph, have each team plot the same information for their own school.
- At the end of the evaluation period, have each team present their findings to the class, indicating how their partner school compared with their own school.
Lead a class discussion about the possible reasons for the differences in performance. Your students may be able to explain the impact of latitude, solar insolation, weather, and other variables on system performance.