Technology is an amazing thing, isn't it? Who would have thought--say, a century ago--that one day, humans would be able to harness the vast energy of the stars, channeling the mind-boggling heat and radiation of our own sun and using it to power our everyday devices. Of course, scientists also predict that a Class III galactic civilization might one day be able to harness the energy of black holes and use it to power the interstellar drives of their starships, but you might have to wait a few millennia for that one. In the meantime, you can take advantage of the shining (or roasting) summer sun by using it to power your Super
Solar Motor! Need I say more?
As the name suggests, a Super Solar Motor consists of a small solar panel hooked up to an even smaller motor that powers a sunny yellow propeller--no coincidence, I'm sure. "Tiny" would hardly be an understatement, considering the dainty 1-inch square panel and the astonishingly cute half-inch propeller. They're entirely self-contained, requiring nothing save a relatively cloudless sky and your average, run-of-the-mill yellow dwarf star. All you have to do is step outside, point the solar panel in the general direction of the sky, and (gently!) hold the motor. And I do mean "gently." While the motor and panel are solidly constructed, grubby little fingers could easily pull the wires out of place or snap off the delicate propeller blades. However, most children above the age of 7 or 8 should be able to handle the solar motor just fine.
Here one begins to run into difficulties. Not that the motor doesn't work--far from it. Almost as soon as you step out of the shade of your porch, the minuscule motor begins whirring with all its might . . . every time. The only problem is what to do with it? The obvious answer, particularly for a homeschool parent, is to use it as a visual aid while studying electricity or the sun or some such thing. This approach would work especially well for middle-school children in a more relaxed schooling environment, allowing them to experiment and find out how much shade makes the motor stop running, whether a translucent material will slow the propeller, etc.
If you have older children, however, the amazing "cute" factor these adorable little gadgets have will probably wear off quickly. For this situation, one requires a bit of ingenuity. Despite the self-contained nature of the solar motors, it is entirely conceivable that, given a set of two motors, the right materials, and a helping hand with some superglue, your child could create any number of delightful little devices--like, say, a tiny solar car!
In the end, this diminutive solar motor is more of a tool than anything else. How you and your children use it is up to you, and whether this particular tool will be useful in your homeschool or not is also up to you. I would have to say, though, that I can't remember the last time I had so much fun running around in and out of shady spots, watching a tiny yellow propeller spinning round and round.