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High and Dry™ Solar Water Heating

With supplies running low, students must design heat collectors to help the HAWC astronauts survive.
High and Dry™ Solar Water Heating



Alice Torres must prioritize her time as two survival tasks weigh heavily on the HAWC team: re-establishing radio contact with Earth and mining ice from Shackleton crater to produce badly needed drinking water. Torres is torn between helping Plissken repair the radio and building a solar water heater with their sparse supplies to ensure the group's survival. Students will overcome a similar challenge by designing and constructing their own water heaters and analyzing their results.


  1. Measure the thermal energy delivered to an area.
  2. Design and build a device to concentrate and capture this energy in order to melt ice.
  3. Determine the efficiency of the device.

Learning Objectives

  1. Explain the effect of convection, conduction, and radiation energy as it relates to heating water remotely.
  2. Construct a solar water heater at a given location to melt ice.
  3. Build an apparatus to measure the thermal energy density at various locations in front of a heat source.
  4. Calculate the efficiency of the solar water heater.
  5. Explain the difference between the reflective projection of a constant-radius curve and a parabolic curve.
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of why different materials and dimensions produce different results in solar water heaters.


Next Generation Science Standards

PS3.B: Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer

HS-PS3-1. Create a computational model to calculate the change in the energy of one component
in a system when a change in energy of the other component(s) and energy flows in and
out of the system are known.
MS-PS3-3. Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one
form of energy into another form of energy.

ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems

HS-ETS1-1. Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and
constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.

ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions

HS-ETS1-2. Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller,
more maneagable problems that can be solved through engineering.
ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution
HS-ETS1-3. Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and
trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics,
as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.

Common Core Mathematics Standards

Note: It is impossible for one kit to fully teach the nuances of each common core standard. However, an
introduction to topics within many of these standards are contained within the activity text, procedure,
pre-and post-lab questions. This kit makes an excellent introduction to practical applications of the
topics covered by the standards.

High School: Number and Quantity
Reason quantitatively and use units to solve problems.

HSN-Q.A.1 Use units as a way to understand problems and to guide the solution of multistep
problems; choose and interpret units consistently in formulas; choose and interpret the
scale and the origin in graphs and data displays.
HSN-Q.A.2 Define appropriate quantities for the purpose of descriptive modeling.
HSN-Q.A.3 Choose a level of accuracy appropriate to limitations on measurement when reporting

High School: Algebra
Understand solving equations as a process of reasoning and explain the reasoning.

HSA-REI.A.1 Explain each step in solving a simple equation as following from the equality of
numbers asserted at the previous step, starting from the assumption that the original equation
has a solution. Construct a viable argument to justify a solution method.
Interpret the structure of expressions.
HSA-SSE.A.1 Interpret expressions that represent a quantity in terms of its context.

High School: Geometry
Apply geometric concepts in modeling situations.

HSG-MG.A.2 Apply concepts of density based on area and volume in modeling situations
(e.g., persons per square mile, BTUs per cubic foot).
HSG-MG.A.3 Apply geometric methods to solve design problems (e.g., designing an object
or structure to satisfy physical constraints or minimize cost; working with typographic grid
systems based on ratios).


Included Materials
  • Heat sensors (2)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Thermometer
  • Resealable plastic bags (8)
  • Black and white card stock (8 each)
  • Black and clear bottles (9 each)
  • Small corrugated boxes (8)
  • Carton sealing tape
Required Materials
  • Multimeters with Type-K thermocouple port
  • 250-Watt Halogen work light (2 recommended)
Storage Conditions Cool and Dark (Ambient)
Stability Indefinite

Teacher Manuals

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