Inspiration at the Youthbuild Charter School

I went into the school for the first time today November 11th 2021. When I first got there I was greeted at the security desk and then I texted the teachers. Then a teacher came down and brought me up to Mr. George’s classroom. There the students were helping to arrange the room and put up and label hand tools on the wall since it is a new room. Then Mr. George brought us all to attention and we did some stretching (except for one student who had Air Force One’s on and didn’t want to crease them which is understandable). Then Mr. George explained what PBL is. PBL is project based learning and is how the students are going to learn about sustainability projects. This is all part of the PHENND/EFS program that I am here to help with. The goal of the projects is to help educate the community about the utility and importance of sustainability and clean energy.

The teacher Mr. George already had an idea in mind for the students to build a person powered generator connected to something for the public to be able to interact with such as a light or a phone charger. This project would go along with a previously installed solar project from another class in a local community garden. 

While the project itself was thought of by the teacher, there are many ways for the students to influence it. For instance, what method will be used to generate the power? The students had many different ideas including a water turbine, and a see-saw. Both of these would be used to turn the shaft of a generator or have parts of the generator in different parts of the machine so that the machine itself would be the generator.

After this initial introduction of the project, the students then took a break for lunch while I stayed with Mr. George to discuss how we could implement the different ideas. In order to better coordinate across the school, Mr. Pete joined us and I briefly explained to him and Mr. George how DC motors and generators work and some potential ways that the students could design to drive them. I also wrote up a quick lesson plan on these concepts to give to the students when they got back. 

Once the students got back, I setup my computer in the middle of the room and proceeded to show them some video clips and pictures of DC motors and generators. I also passed around a small DC generator model that Mr. Pete made which consisted of a plastic tube with a magnet inside, a coil of wire wrapped around the middle, and a LED attached to either end of the coil of wire. Therefore by turning the tube upside down the students were able to see how passing a magnet between a coil of wire generates a voltage and current in that wire to power an LED. this is known as Faraday’s law of induction and is how the vast majority of generators work. Using that demonstration I was able to expand upon the concept and show that we now have mechanisms where by turning a rotor with different coils wrapped around it in between two permanent magnets we can generate electricity. 

Once the students understood the concept of how DC generators work, Mr. George paired them up and told them to start thinking of ideas. I then proceeded to move around the room helping various groups refine their ideas. Then once the students had thought up and sketched their ideas on paper, the class went around the room and each group explained their ideas. As the students explained their ideas, I went over to each group and tried to encourage them to expand upon them further and in a more detailed fashion. I did this by going over the student’s ideas with them and asking them clarifying questions relating to their design and if it would work to generate electricity based on Faraday’s law of induction. The class briefly discussed each group’s ideas and adjourned. I greatly enjoyed being in the classroom with the students as they were all eager to learn which is a rarity in many classrooms and I look forward to going back again.