Saturday, October 29, 2016

Solar Tile Impact

Much of the tech world is abuzz with Elon Musk's announcement that Tesla will be producing glass solar roof tiles. They look as good as normal tile or slate or other roof materials but they are inconspicuous solar tiles. There are tons of articles out there but this video posted to @TeslaMotors twitter page caught my eye:

A kettlebell (I assume at least 10 lbs) is shown falling directly onto each tile sample being dropped from the same height and edited to be at the same time. The different materials respond differently; while the solar cell may not be functional after such a hit it structurally remains in one piece unlike the others.  But I was caught by the varying rebound heights. I downloaded the video and opened it in Vernier's Video Physics app on my iPad and started playing with it. This is the first time I had used it to follow an object's entire motion so its not the cleanest. I tracked the first kettlebell that fell onto the Terra Cotta tile on the far left:

I plan to use this in my energy unit. I can ask students to discuss the change in potential energy for each of the kettle bells as they fall. Students could look at the rebound height for each sample and discuss the loss of energy in each case. I'm hoping students will realize that the loss in potential energy means that the energy has gone elsewhere. You could discuss common product testing, brittle materials vs elastic ones, momentum and more. If you have one-to-one devices you could have students do the same analysis for each material so that they can get the same information for each.

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