Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Exploring Solar Energy

Figure from experiment 2 from Investigating Solar Energy


Electricity can be challenging to study, because, like wind, you cannot see it. To understand electricity, you need to first learn about atoms.

Atoms are very, very small. Millions of atoms fit in the period at the end of this sentence. Atoms are the building blocks of everything in the universe—each plant, building, and person.

Atoms are made up of three types of even smaller particles. These particles are called neutrons, protons, and electrons. The center of an atom, the nucleus, is made of protons and neutrons. Electrons circle around the nucleus like planets circling the sun in our solar system. Some of the electrons are knocked loose when they are hit by light energy. The movement of these electrons is what we call electricity.

Solar cells are made of two thin pieces of silicon that are connected together. When light energy from the sun strikes the solar cell, energy is transferred to electrons in the silicon. When the solar cell is connected to a closed circuit, the electrons start to flow through the circuit.


  • Use electrical energy produced by a solar panel to play a tune and light up LEDs.
  • Investigate the relationship between solar panel angle, orientation, and shade and the ability to play a tune or light up an LED.
  • Verify that energy is transferred by electric currents in a closed circuit.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Investigating Solar Energy

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Introduction to Solar Panels
2Exploring Solar Energy
3Introduction to the Vernier Energy Sensor
4Making Connections: Circuits
5Solar Panel Output: Effect of Load
6Solar Panel Output: Effect of Shade
7Solar Panel Output: Effect of Angle
8Pumping Water with Solar Energy
9Exploring Surface Temperature
10Project: Solar Homes
11Project: What's Cookin'?

Experiment 2 from Investigating Solar Energy Lab Book

<i>Investigating Solar Energy</i> book cover

Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

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