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In this hands on challenge, students try to maximize the efficiency of a solar powered vehicle.
What You Should Know
The car is mostly built already, so the emphasis is on the electronics involved, not the assembly.
Level two of the challenge involves building a "tunnel", so you may see students rummaging through random materials. It is not imperative that this tunnel be light proof in any way, it just has to keep the students from being able to direct the lamp at the solar panels.
In level two of Solar Roller students will be asked to power their car through a tunnel in which it will not have light reaching its panel. This tunnel doesn’t come in the kit- instead students will need to construct the tunnel using things in the classroom. Typically students just line up a few chairs or run the car under a table. The key is not to make the tunnel light proof but just make it a reminder not to shine the lamp on the car during that stretch of the track.
This challenge includes two types of kits: 1 Studio Kit and 2 Student Kits. The Studio Kit includes a few materials that can be shared between multiple groups- namely the materials for setting up the track that the car will go down. Each Student Kit contains the materials for one group to work on this challenge.
There are two variables that dramatically affect the speed of the car: 1) the brightness of the bulb in the lamp and 2) the roughness/smoothness of the surface the car is traveling on. You can control both of these variables to calibrate the difficulty of the challenge. One thing to look for is if students are getting their car through the “tunnel” in level 2 without using capacitors. If they are this is a signal that things are too easy and you may want to have them run the car on a rougher surface like carpet. Alternatively if its too hard you can suggest running the car on tile or another smooth surface or go out and pick up a brighter bulb.
- Please add your tips, tricks, questions, and comments below.