By: Professor Noe Ital [aka: Know-it-all]

How Does
Solar Energy Work?

Solar energy is light and heat that comes
from the sun.

The rays of light and beams of heat from the sun contain energy that can be changed into electricity through a device called a solar cell or solar panel. Solar cells are made of a material that absorbs energy from the sun. Once it is inside of the cell, the energy breaks up into electrons and protons. Electrons have a negative charge, and protons have a positive charge. All the negative charges are attracted to one side of the solar cell, and the positive charges are attracted to the other side. When the solar cell is connected through wires to a light bulb, for example, it works like a battery, and electrons flow through the wire. This brings electrical energy to the light bulb, which makes it light up.

What makes fireworks so colorful?

A firework’s colorful display of lights is created by a combination of chemical explosions and chemical combustion. Combustion is a chemical process in which a substance reacts rapidly with oxygen and gives off heat.

A firework’s fuel is typically a powder (similar to gunpowder) composed of charcoal, sulfur, and potassium nitrate.

In addition to the fuel, fireworks also contain packets of ground-up metal particles. When the fireworks explode, these ground-up metal particles start oxidizing, which creates heat. This heat is what “excites” the metal particles so that they can give off light. Different metals produce different colored lights. For example, copper produces the color blue and sodium produces yellow light.

What are
maglev trains?

Unlike other trains, maglev trains have no wheels or rails. The name maglev is short for “magnetic levitation.” Levitation is the process by which an object is suspended in the air in a stable position. A maglev train uses magnetic forces to levitate, or keep itself off the ground. The track and train’s magnetic poles push each other apart, and this keeps the train “floating” above the track.

Besides using electrical magnets to “float” off the ground, maglev trains also use electromagnets to propel it forward.

Maglev trains are able to travel at a speed of over 300 mph! The reason they can move so fast is because they avoid the friction of wheels on a track.


Dear Professor, What is a magnetic field?

The invisible area around a magnet which attracts another object to it is called a magnetic field.