With energy being the big thing on a lot of minds today, kids are probably having to do more and more science projects that have to do with fuel and energy. So if your child has come hone and said they need to make a science project that deals with energy, you can help them do this by helping them build a mini solar panel.

The items they will need will be the following:

  • Copper flashing
  • Stove top
  • Tin snips
  • CD jewel case
  • Silicone caulk
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Alligator clip wires
  • Light bulb holder and bulb

You will need to cut 2 five inch squares of the copper flashing. Put one of them aside for later in the project. Now take the one flashing and put it on your stove burner and turn the heat up to high. You will need to let the copper bake for around thirty minutes. You will know when it’s done when it swirls with colors and then turns black.

You will then need to let the copper that has been blackened to sit and cool for at least 20 minutes. Most of this black is going to come off and it’s going to reveal the cuprous oxide under it. Don’t scrape off the rest of the black because if you do you’ll do damage to the cuprous oxide and you don’t you don’t want that.

Now take the CD jewel case and take it apart gently. Your case needs to have at lease one side that is clear and not colored. Take some silicone and run a bead of it around the edge of your cuprous oxide. You should leave about a half an inch between your caulk and the edge of your square. Take it and then press the caulk side down on your clear jewel case. Then take the other copper you set aside earlier and put caulking on it three of the edges the same way you did with the cuprous oxide and press it onto the other side of your jewel case. Make sure the three edges are totally sealed and then let the caulk set for 24 hours.

Now take an alligator clip wire and put it onto each copper square. Take two tablespoons of salt and mix with a cup of warm water. You will then put the water into the space that was created between your copper squares. Now take the clip wire and connect to your metal clips on your light bulb holder.

Once you have done all of this, you will put your copper panel in direct sunlight and make sure the cuprous oxide is the side receiving the sunlight. Once the copper begins to warm up your light bulb should light up as well.