4 Fun Solar Energy Activities for Students

Solar energy isn’t just key to a green future; it’s also a blast for learners of every age! Mixing up the classroom vibe with solar energy activities and quick 5-minute classroom games, educators can spark hands-on adventures that are both enlightening and a hoot. Dive into this collection of lively solar energy tasks, each crafted for different age groups, packed with all the info needed for a smooth launch.

1. Solar Oven S’mores

Time: 1-2 hours
Grade Level: 3rd-5th Grade
Preparation: Low


  • Pizza box (one per group)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • Black construction paper
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Stick to prop the box open
  • Marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers


Start by having the students cut a flap in the lid of the pizza box, leaving one side attached. Next, line the inside of the flap and the bottom of the box with aluminum foil, ensuring it’s smooth to reflect the sun’s rays. Place a piece of black construction paper inside the box to absorb heat. Cover the opening created by the flap with plastic wrap to create a greenhouse effect, trapping the heat inside. Place the s’mores ingredients on top of the black paper, close the lid, and prop the flap open to direct sunlight into the box. Have the students observe and record the temperature inside the box at intervals, noting the melting process of the chocolate and marshmallow. This activity not only teaches about solar energy but also introduces concepts like reflection, absorption, and the greenhouse effect.

2. Build a Solar-Powered Car

Time: 2-3 hours
Grade Level: 6th-8th Grade
Preparation: Medium


  • Small solar panels
  • Mini electric motors
  • Gears
  • Wheels
  • Axles
  • Cardboard or lightweight plastic for the car body
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • Scissors


Begin with a discussion on how solar panels convert sunlight into electrical energy. Then, guide the students through designing and building a small car using lightweight materials. Attach the solar panel to the car, ensuring it’s securely in place and exposed to sunlight. Connect the solar panel to the motor using wires; you might need to assist with this part. The motor should then be connected to the wheels using the gears and axles to transfer the energy, making the car move. Have students test their cars in direct sunlight and experiment with different variables, such as the angle of the solar panel or the car’s weight, to see how these factors affect the car’s speed and efficiency.

3. Solar Water Desalination

Solar Water Bottles Lined Up for Desalination

Time: 3-4 hours (including observation time)
Grade Level: 9th-12th Grade
Preparation: High


  • Large bowl
  • Smaller bowl or cup
  • Plastic wrap
  • Salt
  • Water
  • A small weight or stone
  • Measuring cup
  • Spoon


This experiment introduces students to the concept of desalination using solar energy. Start by dissolving a significant amount of salt in water to create a saline solution, mimicking seawater. Pour this solution into the large bowl, then place the smaller, empty bowl in the center. Cover the entire setup with plastic wrap, securing it with tape around the edges of the large bowl. Place a small weight or stone in the center of the plastic wrap, just above the smaller bowl, causing the wrap to dip slightly. Position the setup in direct sunlight and let it sit for several hours. The sun will cause the water to evaporate, leaving the salt behind, and condense on the underside of the plastic wrap. Droplets will then form, eventually dripping into the smaller bowl as freshwater. Discuss with students the process of evaporation and condensation and how this method can provide potable water from seawater using solar energy.

4. Solar Energy Trivia Challenge

Time: 5 minutes
Grade Level: All Ages
Preparation: Low


  • A list of solar energy trivia questions (prepared in advance)
  • Buzzer or bell (optional)
  • Timer or stopwatch


This quick and engaging game is perfect for wrapping up a lesson on solar energy or starting one to gauge students’ existing knowledge. Begin by preparing a list of trivia questions related to solar energy. These can range from simple facts for younger students (e.g., “What source does solar power come from?”) to more complex questions for older students (e.g., “How do photovoltaic cells work?”).

Divide the class into two or more teams, depending on the size of your class. Each team chooses a representative for each question, or you can have the entire team shout out answers. Pose a question to the class, and the first team to buzz in gets to answer. If they’re correct, they earn a point; if not, the other team gets a chance to answer. Use a timer or stopwatch to keep each question to under 30 seconds, ensuring the game moves quickly.

To make it more exciting, you can include “challenge” questions worth more points or have a “lightning round” where questions must be answered in under 10 seconds. This activity not only reinforces students’ knowledge about solar energy but also encourages quick thinking and teamwork.

The Solar Energy Trivia Challenge is an excellent way to make learning about solar energy fun and competitive, encouraging students to engage with the material actively and recall facts quickly.

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