A solar energy experiment that estimates the number of photovoltaic panels needed to provide supplemental power for a typical residence is described. The project is unique because it uses freely available on-line resources for collecting and analyzing remote experimental data. Anyone who reads this paper will be able to try this experiment or use it as a class assignment. Students use the Internet to 1) estimate residential power usage, 2) gather real solar energy data from the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, and 3) look up specifications for photovoltaic panels.A comparative evaluation of remote access versus traditional lab based versions of this photovoltaic power experiment suggests small differences in student achievement. In addition, a follow-up survey revealed some interesting perceptions about on-line experiments. Students enjoyed the remote access version of the lab experiment, but they made clear distinctions between various sources of information. Students trusted some websites more than others.
Citation: Journal of Engineering Education
Volume: Vol. 23
Pub Type: Journals
education, laboratory, photovoltaic, remote access