Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Solar Cells


The goal of this activity is for students to develop a model for the power production of a solar cell, including what variables influence power production.

In the Preliminary Observations, students observe a solar cell generating enough electrical power to operate an LED, buzzer, or other simple electronic device. Students then brainstorm a list of factors that affect the ability for the solar cell to generate power, such as light level, cell angle with respect to incoming light, cell temperature, or the load applied to the solar cell. To investigate the power production of a solar cell, students pick one of the variables and design and conduct an experiment.

Learning Outcomes

  • Design and perform an investigation.
  • Draw a conclusion from evidence.
  • Construct a simple circuit containing a solar cell and a load (resistance).

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

Option 4

Option 5

Additional Requirements

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

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • PS3.A Definitions of Energy
  • PS3.B Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer
  • PS4.B Electromagnetic Radiation

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Cause and Effect
  • Systems and System Models
  • Energy and Matter
  • Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Asking Questions and Defining Problems
  • Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
  • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Experiment 35 from Physics Explorations and Projects Lab Book

<i>Physics Explorations and Projects</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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