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Solar Plane Soars into History

Solar Impulse 2 lands in HawaiiWhile solar-powered cars have yet to cruise much beyond design competitions, Swiss engineer André Borschberg swooped across the Pacific and into the record books when his solar-powered plane landed in Hawaii on July 3, 205 – five days after taking off from Japan.

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Berry Organic Solar Energy

Raspberries on vineHigh school students working in teams of four learn how a device made with dye from berries can be used to convert light energy into electrical energy by building their own organic solar cells and measuring performance based on power output.

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Power Up! TEAMS 2015 Contest

TEAMS 2015 logo“The Power of Engineering” is the theme of the Technology Student Association’s 2015 TEAMS (Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics and Science) competition for middle and high school students. Groups hone their STEM skills and knowledge by addressing real-world challenges related to solar, nuclear, biofuels, and electrical energy, with top-ranked teams invited to participate in the national competition June 28 to July 2, 2015.

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Lesson: Zero-Energy Home Design

building in classIn this activity, student teams in grades 9 to 12 design and build a one-bedroom model house within design constraints that uses passive solar heating techniques to heat the house and sustain that temperature as long as possible.

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Feature: Solar Decathlon Powers Up

New Zealand TeamWhat does it take to build a solar village, where homes not only are designed to create more energy than they use but are comfortable and cool to look at, too? For some 19 collegiate teams from the U.S. and aborad installing their entries to the 2011 Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C., this past weekend, the answer is: lots of hands-on work involving hammers, wrenches, plumbing, and construction cranes.

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Student Invents Solar Tree

Aiden DwyerOn a hike through the Catskill Mountains in New York, Aidan Dwyer, a seventh-grader, noticed that the branches of oak trees seemed to follow a pattern. Inspired, he created a tree-like arrangement of small solar panels capable of generating 20-50% more energy than a traditional flat designs.

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Lesson: Solar Water Heater

Water Heater SetupStudent teams in grades 9-11 gain a better understanding of heat transfer and engineering by designing and building solar water-heating devices that mimic those used in residences. Once the model devices are constructed, students perform efficiency calculations and compare designs.

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Competitions: Alt Energy Model Car Race. Florida

Students make hydrogen before the race.The Florida Solar Energy Center sponsors two competitions to design, build and race alternative energy model cars: The Hydrogen Sprint for Florida students in grades 9 – 12; and the Junior Solar Sprint (JSS) for Florida students in grades 6-8. The small model cars powered solar or hydrogen energy are built as team efforts guided by teachers.

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