Fifteen year seven pupils spent a morning at the Kingston Centre in Stafford where they took part in a “Have you got the energy?” workshop. The pupils investigated some of the more innovative ways of generating energy.
Their first challenge was to get a voltage from a piece of fruit. To do this they
used a nickel plated screw and a 2p coin. Groups tried different fruits such as apples, pears, oranges, limes etc. Once the groups had perfected their fruity batteries they made two more, connecting them up to provide sufficient power to light a 3V light-emitting diode.
The next activity involved pupils turning a LEGO motor into a generator. By turning a small handle and operating through a system of gears, the pupils managed to generate enough power to light an LED.
Pupils were given the opportunity to see how a hot air engine (a Stirling engine) works. Basically, it uses waste heat energy to alternately expand and compress air. This motion is then used to spin a wheel which can subsequently be used to turn a generator, producing electricity. Apparently this is a new technology
being used in household boilers, it harnesses waste heat energy from the hot
water system and transfers it to electrical energy, thus saving on fuel bills.
Pupils used a wind tunnel to turn small turbines and measured their output voltage. Pupils then altered the design of their turbines to see which one was the most efficient at harnessing power from the wind.
The final activity involved pupils using photovoltaic cells to capture light energy. Pupils compared the output voltages generated by the Sun, a security light and a strip light.
Before we left, the pupils were given a short talk from Brian, a representative from Alstom. He spoke to the pupils about careers in engineering, through both the apprenticeship and university routes.
Throughout the workshop pupils were asked questions about electricity, circuits, acids and alkalis and renewable energies. Mrs Dolloway was extremely proud of the way in which pupils responded to these questions, in particular Ryan Hawkins who was an absolute star. A great morning, enjoyed by all.
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