One of the best and most effective sources of clean energy, the Sun, has been manipulated to our benefit since time unknown.
Our students are well versed with solar energy through their extensive exposure to the workings of a solar planel. After all, it is a kilo watt of solar that supports their favourite classroom.
However, this month we took manipulating solar energy a step further with this workshop by Curiouscity Science education. Educators, Utpal Chattopadhyay and Shonali Chinniah, taught the children what happens when we mix different materials, natural and artificial, colours and the light from the Sun.
To begin with, the students were divided into groups to work on their first task at hand- observing the effects of different materials and colours on the temperature of an object. The object in question was a ‘house’ made from an old shoe box. The shoe box house had some essentials- four walls and a strong base- but no roof to protect it. The students were meant to experiment with different natural and artificial materials and colours to make a roof for it. Once done, the shoe box house was to be put out in the sunlight to test the effect of the roof’s contribution to the rise or fall in temperature.
We are told as children that our walls are painted white to repel the heat outside or black is a colour to be avoided during grueling summers. Here was an opportunity to witness the effect of these colours, and materials in our case, on the temperature of a house.
Thus, the groups set off in their own directions to work on the shoe box. Some students used hay as the roof and noticed the temperatures drop in the house. Another group experimented with some aluminium foil to represent a tin roof. The temperature rose ever so quickly in the house as a result.
The students also experimented with different coloured wooden boards as their roofs. Colours such as black and red absorbed more heat where as colours like lemon yellow and white repelled the heat on the roof.
Next, the students looked at using solar energy to purify water through the sailor’s water purification method.
To end, Utpal introduced the students to the latest innovations in the field of energy generation. From the parabolic trough to the parabolic reflector, the students learnt about the use of the very useful innovations that have been made using the design of the humble parabola.
Workshops like these allow the students to experience something to learn it. The effect of colours on temperature, for example, is often common knowledge. However, getting their hands dirty and the constant trial and error helps the students retain this knowledge in the long run.