Teaching Notes

Grade Level

The chapter is appropriate for students in grades 6 through 12.

Note: This chapter was retired in July 2015 as the tools and data are no longer available. The pages are available here for reference.

Learning Goals

After completing this chapter, students will be able to:

  • monitor the capacity of currently operating solar panel installations; and
  • predict how much of a school or home's energy needs can be supplied from solar panels.

Instructional Strategies

Examination of the online data and graphs can be done in groups. Three or four students can be assigned to a location and a time interval and asked to interpret their resulting graphs. Next, groups can be brought back together for a classroom comparison and discussion, especially if a smaller time interval can explain anomalies in data from a larger time interval at the same location. The data from Parts 2 and 3 can be used, or any data that seems complete and useful. Not all datasets are good examples, as the equipment used to monitor them may have broken and gone un-repaired for days or months, in some cases. The Soltrex site has a summary of all the data for each of its sites at the bottom of the page with its "system details". This provides a useful filter for good data.

Science Standards

The following National Science Education Standards are supported by this chapter:

Grade 5-8 National Science Education Standards

8FSPSP5.1 Science influences society through its knowledge and world view.

Grade 9-12 National Science Education Standards

12ASI1.3 Use technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communications.

12EST2.4 Science and technology are pursued for different purposes. Scientific inquiry is driven by the desire to understand the natural world, and technological design is driven by the need to meet human needs and solve human problems. Technology, by its nature, has a more direct effect on society than science because its purpose is to solve human problems, help humans adapt, and fulfill human inspirations. Technological solutions may create new problems. Science, by its nature, answers questions that may or may not directly influence humans. Sometimes scientific advances challenge people's beliefs and practical explanations concerning various aspects of the world.

Time Required

Case Study: 15 minutes
Part 1: 30 minutes
Part 2: 20 minutes
Part 3: 45 minutes
Part 4: 20 minutes

Other Resources

Final Excel graph for Part 3, Step 3.

This is the comparison of Solar Energy between a Texas site and a Massachusetts site. Compare-TX-MA.xls ( 46kB Apr14 11)