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Solar-Powered Cars: Flinn STEM Design Challenge™

By: The Flinn Staff

With Solar-Powered Cars—Flinn STEM Design Challenge™, build model cars that run on energy from the Sun. Learn how solar cars work and investigate different variables.

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Students build their very own model cars that run on energy from the Sun! These solar vehicles use mini solar panels to convert the Sun’s energy to electricity. In the first part of this activity, students learn how a solar car works and build a model prototype. Next they investigate different variables to determine their effect on the car’s performance. Based on the data collected and their observations, students create an optimal design solution for a faster moving car. This activity increases the level of student enthusiasm and ownership of the results as they apply their knowledge and reasoning skills while actively engaging in the engineering design process!

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Asking questions and defining problems
Planning and carrying out investigations
Analyzing and interpreting data
Constructing explanations and designing solutions
Engaging in argument from evidence
Obtaining, evaluation, and communicating information

Disciplinary Core Ideas

MS-ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
MS-ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions
MS-ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution
HS-PS3.B: Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer

Crosscutting Concepts

Structure and function
Energy and matter
Scale, proportion, and quantity
Cause and effect

Performance Expectations

HS-PS3-3. Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy.
MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
MS-ETS1-4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.