How to Build a Solar Panel for a Kid's Project

By Robyn Murray
Nicolas Agustin Cabrera/Demand Media

Building a solar panel with your kids teaches them about the basics of science and the importance of energy conservation. As the world adjusts to climate change, alternative energy sources like solar panels are increasingly relevant. Materials for a homemade solar panel can be purchased at most hardware stores. So get to work, and teach your kids how fun and practical science can be.

Step 1

Nicolas Agustin Cabrera/Demand Media

Heat a copper sheet over an electric stove top for 30 minutes on high. The copper sheet will begin to turn black.

Step 2

Nicolas Agustin Cabrera/Demand Media

Remove the copper sheet from the heat and allow it to cool for 20 minutes. The sheet will return to its reddish color.

Step 3

Nicolas Agustin Cabrera/Demand Media

Delicately remove any black spots remaining on the surface of the copper sheet with sandpaper. Do not scrape too hard as this could damage the heat-created copper oxide layer.

Step 4

Nicolas Agustin Cabrera/Demand Media

Place the heated copper sheet and one non-heated copper sheet into a plastic cup. The two sheets should face each other.

Step 5

Nicolas Agustin Cabrera/Demand Media

Pour two tablespoons of hot water and two tablespoons of salt into the plastic cup. Mix gently.

Step 6

Nicolas Agustin Cabrera/Demand Media

Attach one spring-loaded clip to each of the copper sheets.

Step 7

Nicolas Agustin Cabrera/Demand Media

Attach a microampere meter to both of the clips.

Step 8

Nicolas Agustin Cabrera/Demand Media

Set the plastic cup in the sun.

Step 9

Nicolas Agustin Cabrera/Demand Media

Wait 30 minutes and check the microampere meter. The mini solar cell should have produced a readable amount of electricity.

About the Author

Robyn Murray is a journalist based in Omaha, Neb. She has reported for national and international media including National Public Radio, Public Radio International and Business Day in Johannesburg. Murray holds a master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.