Teaching Solar

As participants in the Illinois Solar Schools program, students and teachers have an opportunity to better understand what solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is all about, and how it contributes to changing the way we generate electricity.

There are many different technologies that use sunlight to generate energy, and although the Illinois Solar Schools grant program focuses on solar PV technology, we feel that this is the beginning—not the end—of a conversation with your students about renewable energy, environmental science, and other topics.

Below are some helpful links to help you develop new ideas on how to teach solar energy topics:

National Energy Education Development Project (NEED) Resources for Teachers

Energy Infobooks are the resource for many NEED activities and include an introduction to energy, information on major sources of energy, new technologies, energy conservation, electricity, climate change, and other energy information. They are available on four reading levels and are revised and updated annually.

Intermediate students learn about solar energy through investigations that explore radiant energy transforming into thermal energy, kinetic energy, chemical energy, and electricity. The kit includes a Teacher Guide, a class set of Student Guides, and the materials necessary to conduct the activities.

Secondary students learn how solar energy is used to generate electricity. Students are introduced to photovoltaic systems, concentrated solar power, and developing solar technologies. Activities explore how photovoltaic cells work and what variables affect their electrical output.

Power Point Presentations

Solar Energy Animations

Department of Energy—Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Resources

Dixon Snow Covered Panel