Harnessing the sun with solar garden light

With the world`s non-renewable resources being consumed at an alarming rate, it`s no surprise that when the new curriculum was released, 2 ½ years ago, the word `environmental` appeared in the key concepts. The programme of study goes on to add that this includes the opportunity to explore issues relating to sustainability. Therefore, teachers are
Harnessing the sun with solar garden light - schematic

now looking for projects that allow students to consider sustainability, and, what better way to do this, than with a solar garden light. This project allows electronic construction, resistant materials, renewable energy and the study of designers, to be included in one scheme of work. This product is very similar to the solar garden lights that can be found in garden centres and hardware stores. During the day, a solar panel is used to charge up a rechargeable cell, and then at night, when the light level falls, the LED turns on allowing a path, step, or other feature to be illuminated. The soldering in the project is fairly simple as the circuit uses just 15 components and no ICs. Assuming students have practiced some soldering prior to assembling the board, any key stage 3 class, should find building it relatively straight forward. With the essential job of making the board complete, the rest of the scheme of work can be designed to cover as many areas as time allows. Students can either design an enclosure for the board to go in to, or, alternatively, if time is short, a large jar can be used to house the board. In this case, reuse / recycling can be added to the project. Renewable energy can be examined; just as solar, wind, hydro, or any other renewable energy sources could be studied. Maths can be included into the project by studying how long it takes to charge the battery. The electronics can be studied in more...

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