Scientific method and renewable energy

Rational consumption of resources, water, food, and energy, as well as clean air, are important for the progress of civilization and clean sustainable development.

Physics teacher can prepare and elaborate a topic according to the “Nature-Based solutions”. Within the laws of physics, that is energy from the Sun. Therefore, renewable energy sources. Our life and work depend on energy, whose large-scale production today pollutes the air and warms the environment.

So getting electricity from a renewable solar source is made possible by solar cells.

Sunlight provides an opportunity to preserve our blue planet Earth.

Solar energy is a source of clean and renewable energy.

Picture 1. The sun, a source of renewable energy.

In many areas, physics and the laws of physics have improved the quality of human life. For example, thanks to physicists we have the internet.

Many interesting areas in physics contribute to the development of technique, technology, and everyday modern life. For each of these topics, students conduct experimental research. Also, they could consider physical law using an interactive simulation.

For a long period of human civilization, we have been using various fossil fuels. This should be very successfully replaced with solar cells. As a result of the use of a renewable source of solar energy, applying a photoelectric effect.

By improving the quality of solar cells, we solve the problem of pollution and warming of the atmosphere. Also, solar energy is an example that provides an opportunity for the NBS.

The energy of the sun

How does sunlight pass through an optical lens? How can a match be lit with sunlight? What happens when sunlight passes through an optical lens?

How can this physical law be applied to the more efficient effect of sunlight in solar cells?

The answers are given in the following video:

Solar cells convert solar energy into electricity.

Through work in pairs, student directly participates in activities by performing measurements of current and voltage. Solar cells produce voltage and current through the photoelectric effect.

Through experiential learning, the student develops the skills of cooperation and communication. The student explores the physical law of the photoelectric effect. Student observes differences in the final values of currents and voltages. Differences are caused by different sources of incident radiation: sunlight, LED light, and halogen light.

Using optical lenses, students explore how to increase the efficiency of a solar cell. In this research, students apply the steps of a scientific method. That is shown in Picture 2.

The steps of the scientific method are:

First: Students formulate a research problem hypothesis.

Second: Students consider and discuss expectations.

Third: To perform testing, observation, and experimental measurements.

Fourth: At last, when the measurement results are consistent with the hypothesis, that even more confirms the physical law.

Finally fifth: When the results do not confirm the initial hypothesis, for this reason, students repeat the whole procedure.

Picture 2.  Steps of the Scientific Method (I prepare a picture personally).

The experiential research

Four different interesting problem tasks for experiential research are considered.

1. Task. Investigate the values of current and voltage produced by incident light for one horizontally placed solar cell: sunlight, halogen light and LED light.

2. Task. Investigate the angle of inclination of the solar cell for which the maximum values ​​of current and voltage are produced, by sunlight.

3. Task. Investigate the values of current and voltage produced by sunlight, according to the connection of solar cells, for two solar cells connected in series, and solar cells connected parallel.

4. Task. Investigate the values ​​of current and voltage produced by sunlight, for one horizontally placed solar cell, with an optical lens.

Upon completion of one task, the pairs rotate and research the next task.

Picture 3. Research and measurement of current and voltage. That is produced with the solar
                 cell by sunlight, with an optical lens (I prepare a picture personally).

Data in “google forms” tables

Students measure data of voltage and current. After that, students record data of voltage and current, in digital “Google forms” tables.

Light source / the angle of inclination of the cell ε  = 0° ε  = 45°
Idle voltage  &  Short circuit current
Sunlight without lensU =              I =    U =              I =    
Sunlight with lensU =              I =    U =              I =    
Table. Values of current and voltage, depending on the angle of inclination of the cell. In fact, values
without and with an optical lens.

The outcome of the lesson activity

In this paragraph, I’m going to state a few reasons why research is important for STEM skills. Firstly, the student applies and develops STEM skills by researching a student experiment. Also, working in pairs.
Secondly, the student presents the functional dependence of significant quantities using NBS — nature-based solutions. In the production of current and voltage, that’s proved very useful using sunlight.
Thirdly, and most importantly, through experimental research, the student measure and shows data current and voltage in Table.
In conclusion, the student concludes on the importance of the way of connecting solar cells, the angle of inclination of the surface, the type of incident light. Finally, the efficiency of solar cells is achieved through optical lenses.

My comments

  1. By considering the measured values of current and voltage, students acquire the skills of accurate reading and comparison of data.  These skills are important for future STEM education.
  2. As a result of organized in pairs, students cooperate and help each other. During that work, there is collaboration and strengthening of social skills.
  3. Applying the laws of physics and nature-based solutions, students develop an awareness of sustainable development.

About me:

My name is Slavica Bernatović. I organize student activities using innovative methods of work. I’m a physics teacher work in a secondary vocational school (upper). Whenever we have the necessary materials and accessories, students research the laws of physics. That is with the intention of connecting them with real-life, technique, and modern technology.

All visuals belong to the Author – Attribution CC-BY

2 thoughts on “Scientific method and renewable energy

  1. Students collaborate, learn and develop an awareness of sustainable development and renewable energy.

  2. With this approach, students actively participate in teaching activities. They cooperate with each other, communicate, think critically and apply and develop their creativity. So, they improve and apply 4C skills. The topic enables the development of awareness of rational energy consumption and renewable energy sources.

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