Connecting Solar Energy & Electronics

clear light bulb yellow background
Photo Source: Saniphoto

This interesting science fair project, designed for the third or fourth grade level by Dr. David B. Whyte of Science Buddies, is perfect for students interested in electronics and energy. Created for use with RobotiKit's Frightened Grasshopper do-it-yourself robot kit, students will explore how energy is converted from one form to another and how the amount of radiant energy available affects the robot's level of kinetic energy.

Types of Energy Explored

  • Radiant energy. This form of energy is created by electromagnetic waves that exist in a broad range of wavelengths. In this project, students will explore radiant energy as it pertains to the sun or a light bulb.
  • Electrical energy (or electricity). This form of energy is created by the flow of charges along a conductor. In this project, students will explore electricity as it is used to power the grasshopper robot.
  • Kinetic energy. This form of energy is created by motion. In this project, students will explore kinetic energy as their grasshopper robot responds to both radiant and electrical energy.

Project Overview

The robotic grasshopper, equipped with a solar panel, stores up radiant energy from the sun or a light bulb converting it into electrical energy which is then turned into kinetic energy. In layman's terms, place the robot in the sun or under a light bulb and it will begin to skitter away! Using several different light bulbs, each with a different wattage, students will explore how differing amounts of radiant energy affect the grasshopper's activity.

For project instructions, a list of needed materials, a helpful video, mock experiment tables, project variations and extensions, be sure to visit Science Buddies for the full post!

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