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. A thermal mass is a material that absorbs and stores heat. Thermal masses can keep a home from heating or cooling too fast.

In this experiment, you will examine the effectiveness of a thermal mass. Two model homes, one with a thermal mass 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.


In this experiment, you will

  • Use Temperature Probes to measure temperature.
  • Find the relationship between thermal mass and the ability of a solar home to retain heat.
  • Design, build, and test a model solar home.