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Solar Power Demo

At the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, they have the best demo of solar power that I have ever seen.

What makes this exhibit so great is the way it lets people physically experience several characteristics of solar power in action; a remarkable feat for a subject that is so abstract.

The small solar panel is connected to a spinning arm at the top of the orange pole. When there’s enough sunlight on the panel to generate electricity, the arm will spin and hit some bells as it goes around, so you can see and hear the effect of the sunlight and electricity.

There is a rubber cover that you can place over the solar panel to see how quickly it responds to sunlight, and how much you can cover before no electricity is generated (hint: you only have to cover a small fraction before all power generation stops).

I took some photos and made a video of my daughter Clara exploring this fabulous exhibit. You can see them below. Towards the end of the video, I try to slip in a bit of learning about the effect of shade on panels, but Clara was off to another activity by then. Still, I think she got the point intuitively just from interacting with the exhibit.

Click the image to see it full size.

Solar Power Demo at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh from Julian Egelstaff on Vimeo.