The focus for quarter four in STEM is a project titled: Eureka! It’s Battery Power. The goal of this project is to create or repurpose something so that it can be more sustainable and/or more portable. The project will most likely require the use of either a battery or a solar panel, which connects to redox reactions, a chemistry topic for this quarter. In a battery, many redox reactions are occurring when it is in use. As well, before we started the project we learned about circuits and electricity, which then helps us with wiring for our project.
For the project, my group has decided to take a vending machine and attach solar panels to it, allowing it to run on solar power, instead of on non-renewable resources. This will thus make it more sustainable, as solar power is a sustainable, renewable resource. Our eventual goal is to make the vending machine fully functional and usable for students. We plan on having students from our STEM class being able to use the vending machine in the STEM classroom. As of now, we are not completely sure what we will put in the vending machine, but we are considering putting school supplies in it, so that students can buy them if they need it in an emergency.
The idea of a solar powered vending machine draws on the concept of taking an everyday object that uses electricity, and making it renewable. Vending machines typically use a lot of power, and are almost always connected to an outlet, which uses non-renewable resources. I personally use a vending machine almost everyday, so by having one that uses solar power instead of a non-renewable resource, I can contribute to the building of a more cleaner and sustainable world.
Currently, we have three weeks left to finish the project and we have made some significant progress already. The main obstacle that we had previously faced was obtaining the actual vending machine. Vending machines usually cost about $2,000, so naturally getting one that we could use for the project was difficult. However, we were able to get in touch with the vending machine company that supplies vending machines for Greenwich High School, Berkshire Foods, through the head of student activities, Diane Fox. Last Friday, Berkshire Foods delivered a vending machine to our STEM classroom, so now we can start to work on attaching a solar panel to it and making it run on solar energy.
As well, before we received the vending machine, we were working on attaching a large battery to a solar panel, so that it could store power for the vending machine to use. We had made much progress in attaching the battery, but our biggest issue has been being able to test it through a USB that we attached. On Friday, we came to the conclusion that the USB wasn’t working properly because there should have been enough current and voltage in the circuit for it to work, but it still wasn’t able to charge a phone that we had attached.
Moving forward, our immediate goal is to finish connecting the battery to the solar panel and testing its power output. Next, we need to test the actual solar panel, and work on attaching it, or a battery that was charged with the solar panel, to the vending machine. This will hopefully allow us to having a working solar powered vending machine within the next three weeks.