Youthbuild Visit to Drexel University

On Monday, April 4th I was so excited to host a number of students from the Youthbuild Charter School at Drexel for a demonstration of renewable energy technology such as solar panels and wind turbines and a tour of the Drexel Innovation Studio and machine shop.

In the first part of their visit, we went to the Drexel Engineering Technology Department’s Renewable Energy Laboratory where Professor Finley Shapiro our local expert in renewable energy taught the students how to characterize solar panels and wind turbines. This consisted of shining light on the solar panels while varying their resistance in order to make a voltage versus current graph from which we could find at what voltage and current the solar panels output the maximum power. The same process was then repeated with the wind turbine (with wind instead of light) to determine its optimum voltage and current level. We then asked students to look at the graphs of the data and see if they could spot a pattern. I was very glad to see that one student really got it and was able to understand that by doing this experiment we could determine at what voltage and current the solar panels and wind turbines were able to generate the most power. The Professor was also very interested in hearing about the Youthbuild project to install a wind turbine at the Urban Creators Garden and is interested in joining the community partnership with YouthBuild to help promote local renewable energy.

I then took the students to the Drexel Innovation Studio where a student ambassador and the head of the Innovation Studio and Machine shop showed the students what was possible in such an amazing space. The students were particularly interested in the Drexel Formula 1 cars that were being built. Additionally, one student seemed really interested in what the space had to offer and made sure to fill out a form to get on Drexel’s recruitment mailing list which could potentially lead to them attending college which would be amazing! Lastly, the students were also amazed to find that such a fun hands-on experience was still considered academic because at Youtbhuild they are used to their day being broken up into “hands-on work” and “academic” work. But at Drexel for some classes, they are one and the same.

All in all, it was a very successful trip as a new community partnership was formed with Professor Shapiro and YouthBuild, the students were able to learn about renewable energy, and lastly were able to see a school where academic classes incorporate hands-on work.