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Students will utilize Internet resources to uncover the pros and cons of two hot topics in alternative energy technology: photovoltaics and fuel cells. Students will analyze the structure and function of each system to make observations about the implications of relying upon each technology and prospects for their future use.
Students will know that
Students will be able to
Three (3)- 50 minute class periods are required for this lesson.
Spotlight Student Handout PDF Document– one per student
Spotlight Teacher Notes PDF Document
Photovoltaics (pv4) QuickTime Video(1:11)
1. Show students photos of a Photovoltaic (PV) array and a fuel cell and ask them what they know about the chemistry that makes each technology produce electricity.
2. Review the chemistry terms: electron, photon, cathode, and anode.
3. Have the students work in pairs to create the following models: hydrogen, oxygen, water, silicon. Students may use molecular modeling kits if available, pipe cleaners and gum drops or drawings to model the molecules.
4. Give a short lecture using the Power Point below. Students will need to be able to make a general comparison between a PV system and a fossil-fueled one in a discussion at the end of the section. The “PV Presentation FSEC” content may be edited to suit the needs and skills of your students.
PV Presentation FSEC PowerPoint Document
5. Discuss the questions on the last slide of the presentation as a class.
6. Have the students watch the web simulation on fuel cells below.
After viewing the simulation on fuel cells, have the students spend a few minutes working in groups to fill out the differences and similarities charts on their student handout.
7. Have the students watch and take notes on the following simulations on a photovoltaic cell at their computer:
8. Have the students fill in the schematic of the n-layer, p-layer and junction on the PDF below and explain the chemistry behind how they function.
Spotlight Student Handout PDF Document
9. Invite students to share what they think are the differences between photovoltaic and fuel cells. Record the student responses on the board, or assign a student to this task.
10. Review how both the fuel cell and photovoltaic function to reinforce the differences in the chemistry between the two systems.
11. Ask the students to explain why and how both systems produce electricity.
12. Review and discuss how electron flow creates a current.
13. Review how both the fuel cell and photovoltaic function to reinforce the differences in the chemistry between the two systems using the diagrams of the photovoltaic and the fuel cell provided in the Teacher Notes or multimedia links provided on the E-21 website.
14. For homework have the students find a source that awards either a tax incentive or grant for using renewable energy. Have them write a paragraph about how their family might benefit from such an award. A great site for students to refer to is: Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.