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Khan Academy


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Physics, Earth and Space Sciences, Engineering

Resource Types

  • Videos, 6 minutes, 47 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Interactive Media
  • Assessments

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States, USA - West

Solar Energy

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  • This video provides an overview of some key ways to harness the energy of the sun, using both passive and active solar methods. 
  • The technologies it describes include using thermal mass building materials, south-facing windows, window shades, reflective roof tiles, green roof materials, solar hot water collectors, concentrated solar power, and photovoltaic cells.
Teaching Tips


  • This is a great video lesson about the different kinds of technologies that can be used to harness energy from the sun. 
  • The video provides visual examples of each kind of technology.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This video is part of a larger lesson in Khan Academy about energy resources and consumption, with a focus on fuel types and uses. 
  • While no sign-in is required to view the video, an account is required to make comments.
  • The first lesson in this series might provide helpful background knowledge for the students, as the quiz is primarily related to that content.


  • While this video is designed to be part of an AP Environmental Science course, it could easily be incorporated into a science lesson on energy, human impacts on the environment, or renewable energy technologies.
  • Try discussing with your students how an area's climate can be a determining factor when selecting which of these technologies presented would be the best design choice. 
  • Other resources that could support this video include this course about renewable energy, this interactive map about solar power generation, and this video about barriers to implementing solar energy.
Scientist Notes
This 7-minute video presents an overview of solar power generation including both passive and active technologies. It is a clear and concise presentation. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Science
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • 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.
    • PS1: Matter and Its Interactions
      • HS.PS1.5 Apply scientific principles and evidence to provide an explanation about the effects of changing the temperature or concentration of the reacting particles on the rate at which a reaction occurs.
    • PS3: Energy
      • HS.PS3.4 Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that the transfer of thermal energy when two components of different temperature are combined within a closed system results in a more uniform energy distribution among the components in the system (second law of thermodynamics).
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