Alternative energy sources are energy sources other than the nonrenewable fossil fuels—coal, petroleum, and natural gas. Solar energy, or energy from the sun, is one energy source alternative. A passive solar heating system uses no pumps, fans, or mechanical devices. Insulation and heat storage are important factors in such a system. Heat can be stored using thermal masses, also called heat sinks. Thermal masses can keep a home from heating or cooling too fast.

In this experiment, you will examine the effectiveness of a heat sink. Two model homes, one with a heat sink and one without, will be heated by a light bulb. Two temperature probes will monitor their temperatures throughout a simulated day and night. You will then use what you learn to design and build a model solar home.


  • Use temperature probes to measure temperature.
  • Find the relationship between heat sink and the ability of a solar home to retain heat.
  • Design, build, and test a model solar home.