Grade Level
Summary and Activity Goals
K- 8
5 – 10 min
Begin the class by assessing student knowledge and generating curiosity about solar and renewable energy. This can be a whole group discussion, or modified to groups or pairs, at the teacher’s discretion or your discretion.
K – 3
Individual Activity
10 – 20 min
Under Construction: Check back soon!
This coloring page features drawings of different roles in the solar energy field. Students can draw themselves in the solar energy career they think they would like most.
3 – 8
Group Activity
15 – 20 min
Sticky notes
Before describing jobs in the solar industry, ask students to think about the various roles needed to install a solar electric system. In a group discussion, explore how these roles fit together.
6 – 8
5 – 20 min
Internet access, A/V equipment
Show videos about solar training, jobs, and career pathways. Discuss student interests, future plans, and the options for work in the solar industry.
6 – 8
10 – 20 min
Scenarios, paper
Students develop and perform original skits, actively presenting what they have learned about careers in solar energy.



Opening Questions (Grades K-8)

Introduce yourself and give context about who 30564327615_64b6c8b294_oyou are, why you are visiting, and what your role is (if any) in the solar industry. You can explain that you’ll be talking about a variety of ways people work in the solar industry, and that each person contributes something different.

​Grades K-3
For K-3 students, questions are intended to broaden students’ thinking about just how many people are involved in a typical residential solar installation. Focus on thinking about what different people do, instead of introducing a lot of new vocabulary students may be unfamiliar with.

How does someone get solar energy for their home? Who helps with this?
Depending on how students answer this question, you can ask students to think about the next or previous step. For example, if they say “someone comes to install them”, you could ask how they get the solar panels to install, or how they decide to get a solar electric system for their home. ​

Grades 4-8
Ask students to think about all of the people involved in completing a solar electric system project. Introduce specific terminology as students think of ideas, writing specific job roles on the board. Try to organize roles in a roughly chronological order, so you can revisit the list and trace through the project process after students have brainstormed. The IREC Solar Career Map website has detailed lists of solar careers, and great general information about solar jobs. Consult with the teacher about the appropriate vocabulary to introduce. For an extended individual alternative, see  Solar Jobs Brainstorm.  

How does someone get solar energy for their home? Who helps with this?
How does someone learn how to install solar?
How does a company get solar panels?
Who makes solar panels?
Who figures out how to make solar panels?
Who figures out how to improve solar panels?

Solar Job Coloring (Grades K-3)

Under construction – check back for updates!

Solar Jobs Brainstorm (Grades 3-8)


Ask students some guiding questions about solar jobs, and have them write down ideas for  5 – 10 minutes, independently or in groups. Then, talk about their ideas and write broad categories on the board. Students bring their sticky notes, placing them where they think they fit into the broader relationships between different aspects of the industry. You may use the general job categories from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) to guide this activity:

Manufacturing: Manufacturing is about making things. But it’s also about dreaming them up, figuring out how to make them stronger and smarter and faster, and then setting them loose in a world hungry for clean energy.

System Design: System design is about how things work. It means taking the manufactured components and figuring out how to put them all together to efficiently generate power and safely connect to systems that store, transmit, and distribute it.


Project Development: Project Development is about getting systems up and running — financially, legally, commercially. From massive utility-scale solar to modest residential projects, this means getting people to buy and install clean energy, figuring out the best places and ways to do that, and meeting all the regulations for safety and quality in the process. And, of course, coordinating all of this.


Installation & Operations: This is about building and running things. It is about construction and engineering and logistics. It is the work in the field. In solar energy, this means the actual work of preparing sites and installing photovoltaic or thermal systems, as well as the operation and maintenance of those systems. It includes not only putting panels on roofs — the most familiar element of solar work — but teaching people how to do this safely and well; managing large and small construction projects; and monitoring and adjusting systems to optimize performance.

SOURCE: http://irecsolarcareermap.org/about-the-industry

Solar Jobs Videos (Grades 6-8)

30528467686_66c788c868_oIf the classroom has A/V capability, you may wish to show and discuss one or more of these Interstate Renewable Energy Council videos about solar jobs.

Solar Jobs Skits (Grades 6-8)

In groups of 3 to 5, students develop and perform original skits. They may use the scenarios below, you can create additional scenarios, or students may create their own. It may be helpful to print the scenario descriptions and distribute to students for their reference.

A family is interested in getting a solar electric system for their home. What steps do they take? Who is involved?

A family is very enthusiastic about solar, but their neighborhood is full of trees and their roof does not get much sun. What do they do?

A family has a lot of old appliances, incandescent light bulbs, and poor insulation. Their electricity bills are high, and they are considering solar energy to save money. They meet with a system designer.
(This case is great for combining with some energy efficiency activities. The take home message here is that people should always consider energy efficiency improvements before investing in solar.)

A family has been living with very hot summers without air conditioning. After they get an air conditioner, their electricity bills go from $40 to $120 dollars per month, and it is hard to afford the additional expense. What do they do?

A new solar installer just completed an installation, but made some mistakes. The inspector comes to check on their work and asks for some adjustments.

For student-created skits, provide the following possible roles to get students started:
Homeowner/Client, Installer, Salesperson, System Designer, Solar Panel Manufacturer, Electrical, Inspector.
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