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Desolation: STEM High and Dry™ Solar Water Heating


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Grade 6 and up. The Desolation: STEM series compels students to solve problems through a hands-on process involving design, development, evaluation, and improvement. The exciting story and engaging hands-on activities of the Desolation: STEM High and Dry™ Solar Water Heating kit provide real-world application for solar and thermal energies, specific heat, phase changes, and engineering.

Note: To provide the most up-to-date information on Desolation products, all the instructional material (teacher's manual, student guides, and supplemental resources) are online only. Each kit contains a special access code and instructions on how to retrieve the online resources.

In the year 2040, the world's energy crisis has been mitigated. Nuclear fusion reactors power the electrical grid. The source of a critical element for fusion, helium-3, is the moon. Government oversight of helium-3 mining operations is a hotly contested issue in the international community. With the world on the brink of war, all travel to and from the moon has been suspended indefinitely.

Four lunar miners from the High Altitude Work Corporation (HAWC) are trapped at the moon's South Pole in a malfunctioning outpost with only their equipment, emergency rations, and problem-solving skills to survive desolation.

Alice Torres, new HAWC team leader, must prioritize her time as 2 survival tasks—reestablishing radio contact with Earth and mining ice from Shackleton crater to produce badly needed drinking water—weigh heavily on the team. Torres is torn between helping repair the radio and building a solar water heater with their sparse supplies. She tasks engineers to design the solar water heater that is critical for the astronauts' survival. In this kit, students construct and test devices that use solar energy to melt ice. They measure the heat energy and determine the efficiency of their devices.

Desolation: STEM High and Dry™ Solar Water Heating

  • Measure the thermal energy delivered to an area
  • Design and build a device to concentrate and capture this energy in order to melt ice
  • Determine the efficiency of the device
Learning Objectives
  • Explain the effect of convection, conduction, and radiation energy as it relates to heating water remotely
  • Construct a solar water heater, at a given location, to melt ice
  • Build an apparatus to measure the thermal-energy density at various locations in front of a heat source
  • Calculate the efficiency of the solar water heater
  • Explain the difference between the reflective projection of a constant-radius curve and a parabolic curve
  • Demonstrate an understanding of why different materials and dimensions produce different results in solar water heaters


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