Solar Whirlygigs

Solar Whirlygigs, aka Solar Kinetic Sculptures or Solar Carnivals, are a fun project to teach about solar electricity. Connecting solar cells directly to a motor and placing in sunshine is a good start to learning about solar electricity and how it works. Below are several different kits to explore for your situation. Your Solar Whirlygig creations can also be Solar Spin Art devices. There are many options. enjoy!

Click here to visit the Solar Schoolhouse Store for available Whirlygig Kits

#SSH-WGB2 Whirlygig

The #SSH-WGB2 Whirlygig kit includes a CD mailer box to mount motor and solar cell. The white box offers plenty of space to add your artwork. Pipe cleaners, UV energy beads, solar cell with wire and alligator clip connectors, motor, yellow wheel, CD with holes, and foam tape are also part of the kit. (no soldering required). Instructions and video tutorial below.

#SSH-WGB2B(Precut) Instructions. pdf. [April 2021] holes are precut (These instructions don’t require the student to map and cut 2 holes in the mailer box. For situations where there is limited time or concern about sharp tools) Order the SSH-WGB2 unit, print the template below, mark and cut the holes (with a snap or xacto blade) as prep for the project.

Print Template (PDF) for marking holes for students or pre-cutting holes to accelerate the project.

#SSH-WGB2 Instructions pdf [Feb. 2021] holes NOT precut. This option includes having students measure and locate the holes with more precision, providing an opportunity to utilize their math and measuring skills. Students can also freelance where to put the holes for the motor and wires. In the prescribed layout, the motor is NOT centered on the box so that the CD mounted on top will not shade the solar cell.


Solar Whirlygig creations using the #WGB2B kit made by 3rd graders at Cerritos Elementary in Glendale, CA. [May 2021]

#SSH-WGA4 Solar Whirlygig

The A4 Whirlygig Kit does NOT include a box. Instead, you’ll scrounge around for a box of your own (chipboard is great to work with) to create a unique solar kinetic masterpiece (see sample to the right). This kit includes: (2) solar cells (with threaded post & nuts for connections), motor with wire and eyelets, yellow wheel, CD with holes, foam tape, pipe cleaners, UV energy beads. Instructions and video tutorial for reference below.

#SSH-WGA4 Instructions pdf [May 5th 2021]


#MSWG2020 Musical Solar Whirlygig

Musical Solar Whirlygig 2020 (#mswg2020). This kit included a sound module (music chip) and was shipped in a USPS mailer box, which became the base for the whirlygig. More information is shown here.


Videos to learn more about Solar Energy

Your Solar Home (26 minutes) The Art and Science of heating, cooling, and powering your home with the sun.

Solar Decathlon – The International Competition of Solar Home Design (2005+2007) Produced by Rahus – Solar Schoolhouse.

The Magic of Solar Cells – learn about the many ways solar cells (aka Photovoltaics) are powering the world.