Long overdue, we’ve finally updated our SOLAR SCHOOLHOUSE CATALOG

The new SOLAR CELL CLASSROOM SET (SCS4) has more solar cells, motors, wheels & fans for exploration activities, but also is designed to be used for projects such as THE SOLAR CARNIVAL or SOLAR WHIRLYGIGS, and can be used for SOLAR SPINART projects as well.  Materials in the Classroom Set are intended to be reused each school year.

The SOLAR FOUNTAIN SCULPTURE SET has been updated to include a solar module on a binder for ease in orientation adjustments, and packaged in a clear plastic box that also serves as the water basin for the fountain.  A series of ENGINEERING SOLAR SOLUTIONS challenges accompany this engaging activity.

This past year, the SOLAR WHIRLYGIG project has been popular among students, with an opportunity to study solar circuits AND get creative. This a low-cost option for students to make and keep for themselves.

For the past 8 years we’ve made and distributed various versions of the SOLAR NOTEBOOK.  It’s now in our catalog!  The SOLAR NOTEBOOK is designed to charge cell phones or powerbanks, for emergency or routine use.  Some versions include a powerbank along with USB LED lightbulbs and lightsticks.  These are a great project not only for students, but for students to offer to your community.

Our New Poster – THE MAGIC OF SOLAR CELLS encourages students to study the many different ways we use photovoltaics (solar cells) around the world, helping to gain a greater perspective on the versatility of this amazing technology. Our Goal in offering Solar Educational kits is to encourage further exploration of solar energy technology and design, through hands-on and project-based strategies.

WE currently sell only to SCHOOLS or other EDUCATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS.
 Check out the new CATALOG and send us your requests.  

Call or email with any questions
Happy Winter Solstice!
Looking Forward,- Tor

Powering our World with Sunshine

A good way to start exploring solar electricity in your classroom.

[April 14, 2021] We have a new video and poster to share! The video provides a short history of the development of the solar cell (aka photovoltaic cell), then describes some of the many ways we use this amazing, and magical, technology around the world. The poster could brighten up your classroom, providing the start of some intriguing discussion.

Brighten your classroom wall and ignite some great discussions about how solar cells are used and around the world. Copies of the poster are available for purchase at solarschoolhouse.org/magicsolarcells/

[October 14, 2020] We have 3 winners of the Great Pumpkin Guessing game! Their guesses were the 3 closest to the final weight of 47.69 kg. They each receive on of the new t-shirts “A Solar Spill is Just a Nice Day“.
– Regina Baratta – Middle School Science Teacher, North Carolina
– Marin Jeong – student, La Crescenta, CA
– Woody Williams – retired teacher, Long Beach, CA

the Great Pumpkin Weigh-In
The final weigh-in at 47.69 kg.

I honestly was oblivious that my wife Dena had scored some Big Max pumpkin seeds in the Spring and planted a few in one of our garden boxes. Unlike the recent winner at the World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-off in Half Moon Bay (1066 kg), we did not water it 10x each day nor add extra fertilizer. Just a small bit of drip irrigation daily watering. This was by far the largest pumpkin that has emerged from our garden..ever.

To weigh this behemoth made us scratch our heads. We couldn’t put it on a normal household scale because we wouldn’t be able to see the numbers. The shipping scales we had only went to 70 lbs (~32kg) and we thought it would weigh more than that since we couldn’t lift it. We ended up using a balance beam, finding the center of gravity to balance on, then balancing it again. First we put the pumpkin on one end. Then it was Tor’s turn to see who weighed more. Tor won (~ 100kg). Then it was Dena’s turn. Dena Won (~ 61 kg). Then we individually weighed a series of concrete tiles we had nearby, added a box of books, and finished with a pan and some water to tune it to the final weight. Adding up the weight of all these items = 47.69 kg (or 105.15 lbs). We used our calibrated shipping scale for reference to weight the tiles, books, and water. This same technique can be used to measure smaller items in your classroom for a student activity. The conversion factor is 2.2046 lb = 1 kg.

If you’d like to be notified of future Solar Schoolhouse contests, sign up to receive Class Notes.

Greetings !It’s a few days late, but I wanted to share this ‘Cosmic Relief’ from kindred spirit Joe Jordan about the Summer Solstice. Since meeting Joe at a Solar Conference many years ago, Joe has shared his astronomical knowledge with enthusiasm at numerous Solar Schoolhouse events.  Enjoy!- Tor

We could all use a little “cosmic relief” now and then — especially these days! … So, here’s some for you. …..

TODAY (Sat.,6/20), at 2:44 PM Pacific Daylight Time — our hero “Mr. Sun” will be directly overhead for some lucky fish (or maybe boat) in the ocean … ~ 200 mi. NE of the Hawaiian islands — at the farthest-north latitude where the sun can EVER be seen straight UP ( so you have NO SHADOW ! ) : ~ 23½ degrees N.

In Santa Cruz, CA., the sun at that moment will be a little to the west of south, already past its peak of the day here. But today, at OUR “SOLAR NOON” when the sun’s at its peak for the day, the sun will also be at its high-point for the whole year: the highest in the sky that it can ever be seen FROM HERE — just 13½ degrees down DUE SOUTH of our OVERHEAD POINT, or “ZENITH”. (So today’s high-point will be higher up in the south than all other daily high-points.)

Today this solar-noon peak for us comes at 1:10 PM local time (Pacific Daylight). … (Wondering why this “solar-noon” high-point-for-the-day occurs more than an hour after 12-o’clock noon? That shift is mostly an effect of our being on Daylight Savings Time — an hour later than “standard” time.)

The word “solstice” basically says that “the sun [‘sol’] is ‘standing still’ [‘stice’, like ‘stasis’ or ‘stationary’].” A lot of folks assume that means standing still in time — in the sense that, e.g., the time of sunset stops getting later from one evening to the next, and now starts its return to earlier times. THAT WILL HAPPEN, soon — BUT NOT THIS EVENING ! Surprisingly, the latest sunSET for the whole year doesn’t happen until the 27th of June — about a week from now! And likewise, the earliest sunRISE already happened, about a week before this solstice day! Nevertheless, total duration of daylight (or, sun-above-horizon time) for the whole year is still at its maximum, today. … I’ll write more later, about this topic of why “solstice” does NOT refer to extreme (“folding”) points of the sun’s setting and rising times.

The “turning-around” (and coming to a halt for just an instant, as when an upward-thrown ball reaches the very top of its trajectory) to which “solstice” refers, is much more directly & simply a spatial thing (involving direction, not time — the stuff of ~ Stonehenge).

The high-point-for-the-day of the sun is always when its direction is DUE SOUTH (as seen in this part of the world). Every day for these last six months (since the winter solstice) the sun-at-solar-noon has been climbing up that “MERIDIAN” (vertical-plane north-south “stairway to heaven”), crossing it higher and higher from day to day — until today when it begins return to descent from day to day. Correspondingly, the sunset position along the western horizon (AND sunrise position along eastern horizon) are at their farthest-north extreme-points TODAY, and come to a HALT in their northward progress (“solstice”) as the sun starts to “fly south for the winter” ! ***

Many other interesting things to tell you about this — but, hey, time flies when you’re having fun! ***
Joe Jordan.
(originally posted on Planet Watch Radio)

Joe Jordan (left) and Tor Allen
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