Moon Rover – Building a solar powered rover

Brief description:

In this activity, students will compare the advantages and disadvantages of renewable energy sources and non-renewable energy sources and study simple electrical circuits.

Using the Moon as context, students will build a small motor and a solar cell. They will also identify the main features their rover must have in order to go to the Moon, and improve their inital rover design.
Subject: Science, Physics, Technology, Arts
Learning Objectives

  • Identify different types of renewables sources of energy and understand their advantages and disadvantages.
  • Identify solar energy as one of the best options for powering a lunar rover.
  • Learn about the evironmental conditions on the Moon.
  • Sketch simple electrical circuits.
  • Build a simple rover and incorporate a solar cell and a motor.
  • Improve their creative thinking and ability to work in a group.
  • Learn about the purpose of lunar rovers for Moon exploration.
    Age range:
    8-14 years old
    Lesson: 1 hour 30 minutes
    Resource available in:
    Activity 1: Powering a Lunar Rover
    In this activity, students learn about the advantages and disadvantages of renewable sources of energy. They will learn about the Moon environment and consider which is the best power source for a lunar rover. The students will also sketch simple electrical circuits.

  • Student worksheet printed for each pupil.
  • Pen/pencil
  • Activity 2: Build a Solar-powered Rover
    In this activity, pupils will build a solar-powered rover using a solar cell, a motor, and craft supplies.

  • Student worksheet printed for each group.
  • Annex printed for each group.
  • 1 solar cell – photovoltaic cell of 5V or 2V recommended
  • 1 motor – DC motor of 3V, or 1.5V recommended for a photovoltaic cell of 2V
  • 2 electrical wires
  • 4 plastic bottle caps or 4 big toy car wheels
  • 1 small carton package (e.g. from food or beverages)
  • 1 rubber band
  • 2 wooden sticks
  • Thick cardboard
  • 1 cork stopper
  • 1 straw
  • 1 marker
  • 1 box cutter knife
  • Hot glue
  • Double-sided adhesive tape (optional)
  • Additional craft materials for decoration
  • Did you know?

    A Moon rover will have to be designed to travel to unfamiliar rocky terrain, covered with regolith and with unkown slopes. The rover should have specially designed wheels that can overcome these conditions wihtout having any problems. It will also have to carry scientific instruments such as cameras and drills to take samples. The rover should also have autonomy and power to cover long distances.

    ESA's light-studded Rover Autonomy Testbed