Racing with the Sun: Creating a Solar Car
Jun 08 2011
TeachEngineeringDigitalLibrary's picture
Source: TeachEngineerin...
Summary Information


solar energy, current, voltage, photovoltaic cell, conservation of energy, Ohm's Law


Physical Science

Estimated Time Required:

3-5 hours

Target Grade (Ages):

Grade 5 (Ages 10-11)

Diversity Indicators:

This lesson is especially appropriate for kinesthetic and visual learners.

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Your Rating: 

Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (4 votes)


I reviewed theRacing With

orlando's picture
I reviewed theRacing With the Sun: Creating a Solar Car lesson plan. First off, I appreciated that not only was the background section concise & informative, but the additional link toHow Stuff Works: How to Make A Solar Cell provided some very updated, current events on the topic (broken into different chapters for convenience). Most of the materials were fairly commonplace. The solar cell was the only item that would require a special purchase. I searched online and thegoing rate was approximately $5. The cost is pretty reasonable for my school budget, since the cell can be reused each year, and one would only have to purchase 4 or 5 total (one for each group). I especially appreciated that the degree of inquiry/design can vary, depending upon the teacher/student comfort level. An example of a solar car construction was provided, but students are encouraged to use their own creativity and understanding of physical concepts to create a lightweight, aerodynamic & fast car. I was happy to see that a solar car rubric file was available. However, I believe that the rubric could be better organized. It was on an Excel spreadsheet with thin columns that were not convenient for viewing. I almost missed the numerical values found on the top rows. I would alter it so that it is ready for teacher printing/photocopying and student grading. All in all, a nicely organized & fun design-based lesson, with an exciting finish to the race!

state standards

JMcCreary's picture

These are not the current TEKS used in the state of texas for Science. Hopefully this will be a work in progress for your lesson plans. I am going to use the Creating a solar-powered car, and adapt it to the current standards. I was at your workshop in Austin during the Texas Regional Collaborative. Thanks for working with Texas teachers. I look forward to the updates in the near future.


JMcCreary's picture

This website needs to be updated to the current TEKS for Science in Texas. Good stuff, but not current standards.

Great Extension for Stronger Students

HemaBhramdat's picture

While I can't imagine doing this type of activity with all of my sixth grade classes, I think it would make for a fantastic, rewarding extension for my stronger students. In classes with a wide range of ability levels, it is essential to provide meaningful work for all students. Design activities like this would be ideal for students that ate high achieving yet bored easily. I agree with another poster- the video was super easy to understand and follow.

It is very useful to know

thavamani's picture

It is very useful to know about the solar products in our present day to day life. congrate

Excelente proyecto, a mi

monroy_g's picture
Excelente proyecto, a mi parecer solo complementaria el aspecto científico con el área de física en el tema del “movimiento” ya que al construir un automóvil sería importante que los alumnos comprendan el origen de su nombre y este se encuentra en dicho tema.

La verdad me parece un

Monserrat Murillo's picture
La verdad me parece un proyecto muy completo, aunque me gustaria integrar al area de computacion tal vez diseñando primero el automovil en la computadora y calculando las dimesiones o tambien representandolo con una animación.

Me parece muy dinámica la

Gabyp's picture
Me parece muy dinámica la manera en que incorporas temas tan elevados para los niños de manera muy llamativa y práctica para los niños, un excelente trabajo!

Hola, creo que es una unidad

YoaliAFN's picture
Hola, creo que es una unidad muy completa. El tema y dinámica es muy atractivo para los estudiantes, siempre les llama mucho la atención poder construir algo por ellos mismos y que pueda, en este caso, moverse. Me gustaría mencionarte que hay algunos video que no tienen el link roto y no se pueden visualizar.Muchas gracias por compartir.