If you recall, last time, when we launched the Solar Energy Project, we chose solar kits (pictured below) that had been made in India. Each contained two 2.5W LED luminaries, a 12V battery (with the charger in a built-in box), and a 5W solar panel with a cable. A kit was very easy to assemble at the time (all you needed was a screwdriver and your hands), and provided up to 4 hours of lighting with a full charge. The light itself was fairly bright and on a rather long cord.
We showed the children how to install the kits and the basics of how the system worked. The significance of solar energy was integrated in their science curriculum but only in theory. Our goal has been to demonstrate the actual mechanism using these simple kits (after all, demonstrations are a great way to cement concepts, especially with children who love being able to physically interact with the kits rather than just listen to theory). The rural children were surprised and delighted to actually light up their class rooms using energy from the sun rather than depending on very inconsistent local power. Keep in mind that in many rural areas throughout India, power outages for up to 18 hours are not uncommon.
This summer, we opted to buy solar kits from USA. Though we prefer locally-made kits, due to financial constraints we could not afford to do that. The brand we got and distributed this summer is substantially cheaper than the one from January 2013. The picture below details the specifications of the lighting system this time around.
This summer, our first stop to launch the Solar Energy Project was at the Katte Malavadi Koppalu (KMK) elementary school. Usually, we intend to make our visits during the beginning of the school day so as to avoid disrupting the class significantly.
Shortly afterwards, they brought us chairs and showed how the plants we had planted together as a team as a part of GCY two years ago had been flourishing (indeed, the children universally took great care of those plants-more on that in a later blog post).
We also got to taste some fresh Papaya fruit grown in the schoolyard planted by us 2 years ago. After about 10 minutes, the staff showed up, upon which we demonstrated how the solar kit worked. The children were surprisingly quick to pick it up, despite their relative lack of knowledge on solar power.
Needless to say, the kids were extremely eager to place the lights and panels where they thought it would be best suited which bodes well for the success of our solar energy project in KMK. The school only has 2 classrooms (which are partially illuminated by sunlight), so it should still be sufficient for lighting purposes. As we repeatedly emphasize, we are counting on the demonstration effect of the solar kit to inspire and interest this current group and future groups of rural children at KMK.
As noted earlier, the kids were enthralled by the nature and workings of the solar energy. We strongly feel that this is a great start to teaching them the power of small-scale renewable energy. Certainly, we intend to continue our Solar Energy Project in other rural schools to provide more rural children with additional resources to help foster their curiosity and environmental education.
Next time, we'll talk about our health camp and the results we obtained!