Homemade Solar Panels for Kids - A Fun Science Fair Project
Homemade Solar Panels for Your Kids
A great science fair project is to teach your kids how to create a solar cell or solar panel using materials you can buy at a hardware store. Now there are some steps that needs a parents help such as heating metal over the stove. Of course it depends how old the kids are. Older kids may do the heating themselves under a parents supervision, but younger children might just have to stand beside and watch as the parent is perform the heating.
Now if you are creating homemade solar panels for kids, then I would suggest that you go ahead and build your own solar cells from copper. These solar cells doesn’t even come near to “real” factory produced solar cells which are made of silicon. The copper solar cells that we are going to do is a very fun alternative but they cannot really be used to produce any greater electricity as we know it. It could be but we would need gigantic amounts of copper that would cost thousands of dollars, and corrode after about 9 months of use.
If you want to make homemade solar panels that you can use to power a light bulb for example then you should take a look at this page.
Now to start making the solar cell you will need these materials:
- Sheet of copper
- 2 Alligator clips
- Microampere meter
- Electric stove
- Metal shears
- Plastic cup
You start out by cutting two pieces of copper that can fit into your plastic cup and at the same time can be heated on your stove. Turn the temperature on the highest and heat up one piece of metal. You will se that it will begin to change colors, from red to black.
After about 30 minutes: turn off the stove and you will se that the black copper piece is starting to cool down and turn into “copper color” again. When the copper has been cooled for about 20 min then it’s time to remove some of the black spots on its surface. You want to be very delicate with this step. If you scrub to hard you can damage the thin red oxide layer you have created with the heating. Try to wash the copper with water and gently use the sand paper to remove the most easiest black spots.
Now, it’s time to make the solar cell. Take the two pieces of copper sheet, (one is heated the other one is not) and place then in the plastic cup. The are placed apart but still facing each other.
Add hot water and a couple of tablespoons of salt to the cup and attach the alligator clips to the copper sheets (one clip for each sheet).
Now attach the microampere meter to the two clips and bring the cup out in the sun to see if it produces any electricity. If it does then congratulate your kid for creating their first homemade solar cell.
If you want more detailed instructions with pictures then visit this great diy solar cell page which I found. (This is the page where I found out about this project.)
Copper is a very expensive material and in order to power a lightbulb it would take lots of copper that would cost you thousands of dollars. The area needed would be enormous compared to a commercial solar cell.
Once your kids have made their first solar cell, then perhaps you could buy some factory seconds solar cells off ebay to make a solar panel. This project is a bit more difficult, even for adults so keep in mind that not everyone can pull this project off.
To give you more information and some instructions to get started on a real solar panel please see this page.