Solar Challenge

solar collector

Grade Level

  • 6-8
  • 9-12


  • Kits, Curricula, & Resources

Driving question: How can we learn to harness the sun’s renewable energy, which benefits people and does not add pollutants, including greenhouse gases, to our air?

Challenge your students to build a collector to boil water with energy from the sun. The Solar Challenge curriculum:

  • help students experience energy transformations,
  • grapple with core ideas about energy,
  • practice employing engineering strategies
  • help them to experience how energy can be harnessed in ways that do not negatively impact our environment or our climate.

The Solar Challenge curriculum focuses on the ways energy is transformed and used for a variety of purposes in our daily lives. Students consider different forms of energy, exchanges between those forms, and then focus the bulk of their learning in this unit on the sun, an abundant, renewable source of energy. They learn to harness the sun’s energy to heat water by building and testing a solar concentrator that transforms radiant energy from sunlight into thermal energy that heats water.

Build a solar collector to heat water with energy from the sun!


Kit includes: Reflective mylar, thermometers, mirrors, utility knives, mini-collector patterns, conduction and convection experiment & demonstration materials and more. 

Kit size: 2 large plastic totes, 1 roll mylar, 1 tube straight edges

Kit cost: $60.00/$50 (mylar only)

NGSS standards addressed

MS-PS3-3 Energy: Apply scientific principles to design, construct and test a device that either minimizes or maximizes thermal energy transfer.


  • Solar