Students will use the power of the sun to build their own creative water fountain. This activity demonstrates how solar energy is transformed into electricity that we can use. Students will use solar panels to power a small water pump and build a functioning fountain. In doing so, they will learn how a solar panel works, collect data and test variables, and apply their observations to their engineering process as they improve their designs.
- Preparation time: 5-10 minutes
- Learning time: 45-60 minutes
- Estimated materials cost: $12-$30
- Grade range: 2nd-12th grade
You will need:
- Lamp (if you do not have good sunlight)
- High wattage incandescent bulb (100 watts or higher)
- Compact fluorescent bulb (optional)
- LED bulb (optional)
- Color acetate sheets (optional)
- Alternative fountain building material such as plastic bottles, large basins for water, more plasticine, straws, etc.
1. Affix the pump to the middle of the tray using small pieces of plasticine.
2. Make a tube adaptor.
Cut 1inch off the medium tubing and attach it to the nozzle on the pump. The fit should be snug.
3. Attach the pump to the solar panel.
Red wires to red, black to black.
4. Water Pump and Solar Panel Tests
Turn the light on, and adjust the distance of the solar panel until the pump pushes water out of the tube. Experiment using different tubing to see how the diameter affects the fountain.
Note: If the pump doesn't immediately work, try using a stronger light source and double check that the wires are connected correctly. If necessary, connect the pump to a 9V battery to give it a jumpstart, by connecting the red wire of the pump to the positive lead of the battery and black to the negative (sometimes older pumps just get stuck!). If all else fails, try a new pump!
What are the variables? For the solar panel? The water pump?
5. Innovate and Decorate!
What will you create?
Get your own kit, or find more about the Solar Fountain here!