Investigation: Solar Car Energy

In this investigation, three different sites are evaluated for their solar exposure using a solar car’s travel time and distance along with the measured wattage output from the car’s solar panel.

Instructions / How to do this investigation


  • Solar car
  • 8 x1x1 Wood board or plank
  • Timer
  • Data recording sheet
  • Level
  • Handheld solar measurement tool



  1. Identify 2-5 locations on the school campus that have a source of solar energy (i.e. sunny area).
  2. Identify the same spot at each location where the board will be placed.  Set board on a level surface.  Use a level to measure the incline.  Use blocks to prop as needed.  
  3. Mark board with inches and feet measurements.
  4. Place solar car at the mark of 0 and hold until the timer starts.
  5. Start the timer and release the car.
  6. Watch the car and measure the distance traveled in 30 sec.
  7. Record the distance traveled and observations on the recording sheet.
  8. Use the handheld solar measurement tool to record watts in location during the time that the car is moving.




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