Design a Folding Solar Panel

This Design a Folding Solar Panel activity also includes:

Solar energy is an amazing alternative ... but, not always particularly portable! Challenge young scientists to a folding solar panel build-off with an easy-to-execute activity. Scholars brainstorm around specific design needs, construct their panels, then put them through tough tests to determine their effectiveness.

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CCSS: Adaptable
NGSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas
  • Pre-fold some origami shapes to demonstrate the space-saving advantages of folding
  • Tap into the space exploration aspect of folding solar panels by showing the class a simulation of the James Webb telescope launch
Classroom Considerations
  • Reduce the design constraints for middle schoolers to allow them to focus on just a few aspects of the build
  • Review the materials list carefully to identify which items are whole-group and which you need to provide to teams
  • Activity uses a current engineering design scenario to create interest around the build in the form of space exploration
  • The building constraints mimic actual constraints professionals face when designing a new use for a highly technical material
  • None
Common Core