Solar Reflectors

In this practical activity students will make a parabolic solar reflector and then investigate its ability to focus sunlight. It will probably work best if students have already seen Shedding Light on Curved Mirrors, but this is not essential.
The ten-minute video below first looks at what parabolas are (including the mathematics involved) and then Spiro shows students how to make and test their own linear parabolic solar reflector.
The whole practical activity will take about 3 or 4 periods.
If you want the answers, simply send us an email or fill in the form below.

Practical Activity – Linear Parabolic Solar Reflectors (pdf) The practical activity’s instructions, results table, and some analysis questions.

Parabolas worksheet (pdf): A quick practice run at drawing various parabolas, and calculating a parabola’s focal length.
Parabolas worksheet (a more advanced version) (pdf).

A4 parabola-graph-paper master which needs to be enlarged to A3 (pdf). Students need this sheet to draw their parabolas on.

The Solar Reflectors practical activity above is part of the brilliant Shedding Light on Light series, which covers your whole Light course.


You might also be interested in our Shedding Light on Atoms series, which looks at the history of the discovery of atoms. It covers not just what we know about atoms, but also how we know what we know about atoms.

And, you may like to get your students up to speed (pun intended) on the topic of Motion with our awesome Shedding Light on Motion series. No other resource even comes close to this series when it comes to teaching your Motion unit. So get moving and check it out today!

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