Solar cell workshops

Introducing the principles of solar energy to primary school teachers and pupils

Project duration: January 2000 to July 2008

The purpose of this project was to introduce the principles of solar energy to primary school teachers and pupils. CSE did this in two ways:

1) Training teachers in the basics of solar energy and how they can use practical activities to encourage children to explore how the sun’s energy can be used and transformed

2) Providing teaching materials to support the science curriculum at keystages 1 and 2 and promote education for sustainable resources

CSE will develop a ‘solar resource kit’ and accompanying teacher materials, and will deliver teacher workshops within the four authorities.

The kits were designed to meet curriculum requirements in science through the circuit-building element. They were also suitable for use in education for sustainable development through the introduction of the idea of renewable energy as an alternative to batteries and/or fossil fuels.

The kits included 30 pairs of solar panels, 30 solar motors, 30 propellers and a multi-meter, all in a sturdy plastic storage crate.

The challenge was to make the teacher workshops fun and informative so that teachers were enthused about the issue and encouraged to use the resources in their classes and incorporate the materials into their ongoing lesson plans.

Four workshops were run, three in host primary schools, and one in a purpose-built conference centre. The workshops were aimed at primary science teachers, but there were, in addition, a number of deputy heads who attended the training.

The majority indicated that it was essential to attend the workshop to obtain the maximum value from the resource. A few schools purchased the resource and asked CSE to run a pupil session at their school. This was also successful, but not as comprehensive.

Every school who attended the workshop has already used the resource or has planned it into their primary curriculum for the coming academic year.

Key curriculum areas include science, geography, and design and technology. The types of activities that teachers have carried with the children in their class include: spinning patterns on plates; solar boats; hovercrafts; miniature ‘SS Great Britains’; spinning bow ties and solar powered sun flowers.

Although the kits were aimed at primary schools, a secondary school teacher from South Gloucestershire will be incorporating the resource into her geography and citizenship lessons, specifically to address the issues surrounding climate change.

Funding from the Carbon Consultancy allowed the workshop will be repeated in a further 15 schools in South Gloucestershire.


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