Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Project: Build a Solar Car


Automobile companies are continuously refining the technology for electric vehicles. From hybrids to full electric, there are increasing options for a vehicle that is less reliant on gasoline or diesel fuel. With advances in battery technology that enable more charge to be stored, the driving range of these vehicles is also lengthening.

Electric vehicles however, still need to be “fueled,” by plugging then in at night or while parked at work or school. A hybrid can generate electricity to recharge the batteries when it runs on its gasoline engine, and some will gain electric charge back from the braking of the car.

But what if a vehicle could be made to “fuel” itself? One that would use only renewable energy? No gasoline. No plugging in. But would “refuel” itself as it drove or sat in a parking lot. A solar car would fit this description. A solar-powered car would have produce no emissions and would run quietly on its electric motor, reducing noise pollution.

In this project, you will construct a solar-powered car. You will use solar panels to power one or two motors to move your car down a 2 meter track. You will measure the voltage, current, and power your power source provides, as well as the time it takes your car to travel 2 meters, and compare these values with those of your classmates.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Additional Requirements

Graphical Analysis 4

Next Generation Science Standards

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Developing and using models
  • Planning and carrying out investigations
  • Analyzing and interpreting data
  • Using mathematics and computational thinking
  • Constructing explanations and designing solutions
  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • PS2A: Forces and Motion
  • PS3.A: Definitions of Energy
  • PS3.B: Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer
  • PS3.C: Relationship between Energy and Forces
  • ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
  • ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions
  • ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Cause and effect
  • Scale, proportion, and quantity
  • Systems and system models
  • Energy and matter

Solar Energy Explorations

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Renewable Energy
2Introduction to Solar Panels and Solar Energy
3Measuring Energy
4Making Connections: Circuits
5Solar Panel Output: Effect of Load
6Solar Panel Output: Effect of Shade
7Solar Panel Output: Effect of Angle
8Solar Panel Output: Effect of Temperature
9Project: Build a Solar Car

Experiment 9 from Solar Energy Explorations Lab Book

Solar Energy Explorations 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.

Buy the Book

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