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Solar Water Heater
http://www.teachengineering.com/view_activity.php?url=http://www.teachengineering.org/collection/cub_/activities/cub_housing/cub_housing_lesson01_activity1.xml

Landon B. Gennetten, Lauren Cooper, Malinda Schaefer Zarske, Denise W. Carlson, TeachEngineering from Integrated Teaching and Learning Program

Student teams design and build solar water heating devices that mimic those used in residences to capture energy in the form of solar radiation and convert it to thermal energy. In this activity, students gain a better understanding of the three different types of heat transfer, each of which plays a role in the solar water heater design. Once the model devices are constructed, students perform efficiency calculations and compare designs.

Activity takes six to eight 45-minute class periods. Additional materials necessary.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Sunlight reaching the Earth can heat the land, ocean, and atmosphere. Some of that sunlight is reflected back to space by the surface, clouds, or ice. Much of the sunlight that reaches Earth is absorbed and warms the planet.
About Teaching Principle 1
Other materials addressing 1a

Energy Literacy

Many different units are used to quantify energy.
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1.7 Units of energy.
The energy of a system or object that results in its temperature is called thermal energy.
Other materials addressing:
1.2 Thermal energy.
Energy is a physical quantity that follows precise natural laws.
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Energy is a physical quantity.
Humans transfer and transform energy from the environment into forms useful for human endeavors.
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4.1 Humans transfer and transform energy.
Other materials addressing:
Various sources of energy are used to power human activities .

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:B) Designing investigations
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B) Designing investigations.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
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C) Collecting information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:C) Energy
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C) Energy.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:D) Technology
Other materials addressing:
D) Technology.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Light and other electromagnetic waves can warm objects. How much an object's temperature increases depends on how intense the light striking its surface is, how long the light shines on the object, and how much of the light is absorbed.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark
Energy from the sun (and the wind and water energy derived from it) is available indefinitely. Because the transfer of energy from these resources is weak and variable, systems are needed to collect and concentrate the energy.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Educator would ideally also draw connections to students' lives and personal energy use.
  • Educators may want to omit specific heat calculations particularly for non-physics students.
  • The metal storage tank would be more efficient if made of plastic; gluing to metal is more difficult.
  • The copper rods in Plan B need a more thorough explanation (Copper rods increase heating surface area).
  • Time needed for this activity might not be commensurate with the intended learning for this activity - educator might assign the construction as a term project.

About the Science

  • A really strong, well-organized activity, most suited for physics students (heat transfer concept and math level), but can be taught in other classes if supported adequately.
  • Good background information provided for educator.

About the Pedagogy

  • Offers both performance assessment (building and testing of solar heater) and good discussion questions.
  • Excellent illustrations help students through the building process.
  • Good activity for kinesthetic learners as it requires designing, building, and testing.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Sophisticated design requires purchase of a fairly significant amount of copper tubing to construct the water heater.

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