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Age Range: 11-14 | 14-16
Duration: 60 or more mins
  • Engineering
  • D&T

Solar powered engine

Making a model of an electric aircraft engine and calculating how long this could power an aircraft.

Jet engines used on aircraft produce a lot of carbon emissions. Can you make an electric aircraft engine that only runs off solar charged batteries? In this activity learners will make use of the theme of the future of flight to make a model of an electric aircraft engine that uses solar-powered rechargeable batteries and a motor. They will then test their circuit to see if it works and calculate how long it can run for before it needs to be recharged.

This activity could be used as a main lesson activity to teach about assembling models of circuits and the use of renewable energy. It could also be used as part of a wider scheme of learning to support focussed practical skills or about engineering career opportunities within the aviation sector.

You will need

  • Solar AA battery charger
  • 2 x rechargeable AA batteries
  • AA batteries connector/holder
  • Red and black crocodile clips
  • Slide or toggle switch
  • Electric solar motor
  • Atlas (for extension activity determining potential journey destinations)

And please do share your learning highlights and final creations with us on social media @IETeducation or send them via email to to be featured in our online gallery.

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