Blogpost #4: Reflect and Share

Show your final product through photos and/or video

(phone on the right side indicates that the phone is dead, out of battery and needs to be charged)

(phone on the left indicates that the phone is charging but still shut down)

  • shown in the video

 

Explain how it works/doesn’t work using scientific terminology

My solar powered charger works by transforming sunlight, renewable energy(energy radiating from the sun – solar energy) into electrical energy, this happens through a so-called photovoltaic process. Then the electrical energy is sent to the USB module through an electrical wire connecting the 2. In order to charge your phone, you can use any type of charger but with a USB cable and connect it with the USB module that is on the solar panel, just like how you would use it with any charger block.

There are many factors that stopped the solar-powered charger from working efficiently. To be able to charge, your phone has to be dead. From several tests I conducted, my observation concludes that the efficiency of the solar charger in my case is most likely to do with of the amount of sunlight the solar panel is able to harvest. Since the solar panels we have school aren’t the best and can not collect as much sunlight needed, there isn’t enough energy converted into electrical energy, therefore there is not enough energy or voltage to charge a phone, from research I found out that 5 volts is the official requirement  and the minimum for charging all types of IOS devices(iPhones – what I used in my experiment). I also found out that when the phone is on while charging, the device is consuming battery/energy at the same time, which explains why the phone is only able to charge when its dead or off. When it is shut off, there are no other factors that can impact the charging process, when you charge the device when power is on, the RAM, the Processor, the background apps and many other things utilizes the battery and it leads to slower charging as compared to charging when the device is off. Therefore, leading to having to charge with a higher voltage when it’s on. The USB module that I used in my design is a 5V one, so I have to keep it shut down/dead when charging in order to not use up any energy for other things when the phone is on. All these factors and research explains why my solar charger can only charge when the phone is off.

Explain the areas you were successful in the product/process

The parts that I was successful at was mainly the aesthetics and the idea of the design, if not looking at its functionality it actually is a very simple and easy to use design (also from the feedback of others). Other than the product, the process was a very important part of my final product, I did many testings, created many prototypes, and I looked at many ideas & tutorials. My time-management skill was very helpful in the making process, I used all of the lab time given after school to figure out and complete my design as fast as possible, which is why I was able to change my entire design up half way through but still have extra class time to test my final product. I also planned out my time to work on my blog post according to my progress in the making of the design which made everything more clear and easier to work with.

Explain the areas you need to improve in the product/process

For weaknesses and improvements, several of them are stated in the feedback section of blog post #3, many of which are mainly focused on the functionality of the product. As explained above, it does not function the same as any other portable charger in the market. It still needs many improvements, for example, if I were to create this project again, I would use a solar panel that can collect more sunlight either buy it myself or find one at school if there is any because the main factor which impacted the efficiency of my product is caused by the solar panel. Other than that, I also need to fix the positioning of the solar panel (explained in blog post #3), I need to reposition the solar panel diagonally, not parallel to the ground in order to collect more sunlight.

There are also a few areas needed for improvement in the process of making the product, especially planning. Planning is an important part of making a design that meets your expectations, but I did not do so well in that area. I made several huge changes to my design because of my poor planning, before making the design, I did not check what materials we had at school which wasted a lot of my class time and I ended up having the change up the whole design from using wind energy to solar energy which is quite difficult at such a late stage when almost everyone is close to finishing with their designs.

Explain the impact of this project on the environment and potential client/consumer.

This project uses clean, renewable power from the sun to create electricity instead of using fossil fuels which is harmful to the environment and is very expensive for the clients/consumers. Unlike fossil fuels, solar energy is free and readily abundant which helps potential clients save money on electric bills. Also, generating electricity with solar power instead of fossil fuels can dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide. Greenhouse gases, which are produced when fossil fuels are burned, lead to serious environmental and public health issues, for example, extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and ecosystem changes. Not only is solar energy harmless for the environment, but it also reduces respiratory and cardio health issues. One of the biggest benefits of solar energy is that it results in very few air pollutants, which can help with health problems.

 

Work Cited:

Matasci, Sara. “2019 Health & Environmental Benefits of Solar | EnergySage.” Solar News, EnergySage, 15 Jan. 2019, news.energysage.com/health-environmental-benefits-of-solar-energy/.

Sontag, Mark, and Rick. “Q&A: Will My Phone’s Battery Really Charge Faster If It’s Turned off?” Rick’s Daily Tips, RicksDailyTips.com, 11 June 2018, www.ricksdailytips.com/charging-iphone-battery/.

Blogpost #3: Create and Improve

Take at least 2 pictures every class of your prototypes

Show testing (through video)

Reflect on how the process is going

Block 1-2: The wind turbine idea didn’t work out as expected, even though it looked fairly easy on the tutorial. There are many factors that impacted the making process, for example, how I did not check all of the materials that we had at school so it took time to make some of the materials out of cardboard. Like my wind turbine blades/flaps, I made them out of cardboard following the tutorial when I could’ve just used the plastic, pre-made store-bought fans that they had at school that work a lot better and would’ve saved a bunch of time since it took me 1 whole lab to make the blades.

Block 2: At first, I was going to use the wind energy to power a single LED light, and place it inside a house made out of cardboard for visual purposes, but after I created my plan, I realized that my model was exactly the same as one of my classmates. I didn’t want our designs to repeat, so I decided to make changes to mine, I thought of different ideas to replace the house but still using the LED light. My new idea was to make a Christmas tree and create a circuit of LED lights all connected with each other. Then, wrap around the mini Christmas tree at the end, but it didn’t end up working because the one single wind turbine was unable to power the whole Cricut of 5-10 LED lights. Through experiments, 1 single turbine was only able to power up to 2 LED lights at a time. So I came up with a new idea, which was to make several fans, each powering 2 LED lights and stick them close and around the Christmas tree, and making them at different heights so the lights could wrap on all levels of the tree. After I thought about it more, I realized that it would be difficult for all the turbines to spin fast enough at the same time to power all the lights. So I gave up on that idea. This block was mainly used up by experimenting and coming up with new ideas.

Block 3: This was a lab block after school, and since my ideas all did not work out, I thought if one turbine is able to power 2 LED lights, then it must be able to power one single mini light bulb. I decided to switch my idea to powering one single mini light bulb and since the size of that is a lot bigger than the LED lights, I can just glue it onto the top of the Christmas which will act as the star on the top of the tree. I gathered all my materials and went into testing, at first I had some problems with my generator not working when everything was connected and secured. The turbine wouldn’t turn when I spun it with my fingers when it usually would. So I used a battery to power it and test it, the generator works and so does the light bulb, but the power was too strong and it blew out the light bulb. I tested it 3 times and all 3 of the light bulbs blew out, so I switched to another light bulb that seemed larger, and it worked without blowing out the light bulb. Later that night, I took it home and blew it with my hairdryer set to the fullest mode to make it spin. The turbine did spin fairly fast (shown in the testing video above) but it still wasn’t fast enough to power the lightbulb. So I gave up on that idea after a few tries.

Block 4: SInce the idea of using wind energy to power the mini light bulb did not work, I ended up researching other design and I came across a solar power charger for your phone and it looked really easy to make. All you need is a solar panel, electrical wires, and a 5V USB module. During the class time at school, I gathered all the materials and made the project within 30 mins. After I tried it with my charger plugged into my phone and connected it to the solar panel It actually worked, but the key point is that my phone at that time was dead. That became a major factor that impacted the efficiency of the design which I will explain in detail later. I sawed out 4 wood cylinder pieces and glued them onto the back of the solar panel so it could stand up on its own.

Block 5: For this class time, I was pretty much done with my design and I decided to take another video of my design working while my phone was on and had battery, but it ended up not being able to charge the phone. I am certain that it isn’t my charger’s problem because it could charge at home with it plugged into wall perfectly fine. So I inspected the wires, looking for places where the connection might’ve gone wrong and I even went all the outside to the field just in case the solar panel was getting the sun directly and not through a window. It still ended up not working and when I was testing I would see flashes of red light on the USB module, after several tests with plugging in versus not plugging it in, I figured out that the flash of light indicated whether the phone was plugged in or not. Then, I remembered how my phone was dead the day I tested it and realized it probably has something to do with that because nothing went wrong with the connections between the wires and the solar panel. I waited for my phone to die and tried it again, and surprisingly it actually worked which proved my theory.

Gather feedback from others

Wind Turbine Feedback

I asked around 8 people for feedback, and some of them are not from my science class. I asked each of them the same 3 questions; 1. What weaknesses do you see in my design? 2. How can I make it better?  3. What is your overall rating out of 5 for this prototype including the aesthetics and function, and idea? some people gave really similar feedback so I gathered the 2 main types of responses and summarized it for each question:

Person 1:

  • Q1): From seeing the experiment video, I know that your design does not actually work like it is supposed to do in order to solve the problem
  • Q2): Since everything else works, it’s only the lightbulb’s problem maybe you could do something about the lightbulb, like change it to another brand, type.
  • Q3): I would give it a 2.5 out of 5 because even though the visual aspect fo this design and the idea of using wind energy power a light and relating Christmas in it is really cool, but the main part and the most important aspect of this project is meant to solve the problem and actually use renewable energy and transfer to electrical energy.

Person 2:

  • Q1): The wires are very fragile to breaking off the connected parts, so if you accidentally pull on it or drop it would break easily
  • Q2): You should use something to make the connected part stronger, not just twist the wire
  • Q3): I would give it a 3.5 out of 5 because I really the idea of using wind power to light up the Christmas tree, but you just need to fix the lightbulb and connection problem.

 

Solar charger feedback

Person 1

  • Q1) It doesn’t actually work when your phone is on, so that is very inconvenient because the majority of people need to use their phone while charging, which is the main point in a portable battery.
  • Q2) You should fix the problem of the charger, try to find out the issue with what went wrong, it could be the USB module or the solar panel that is broken or incompatible.
  • Q3) I would give it a 4 out of 5 since you met almost all of the requirements, the solar charger does work but only in certain situations (when phone is dead), but other than that you have a great and simple design that is easy to use (referring to the wooden stumps to elevate the solar panel).

Person 2

  • Q1) The solar charger is pretty much parallel to the ground when placed on a flat surface which is not good for collecting solar energy because most of the time the sun is either on one side of the sky rather than straight above.
  • Q2) To fix the problem I stated in question 1, it would be more efficient when collecting sunlight if you made the wooden stumps cut at an angle and at different heights so the solar panel would be slanted.
  • Q3) Around a 3.5 out of 5 since you have to fix several problems like how it will function, and its effectiveness.

 

Show improvements to your design

My first prototype was the wind turbine:

After I changed to the solar-powered design (final design):

   –> added wood stands –>

Categorize post: Science, Grade 9, Engineering, Design

Blogpost #2: Develop and Plan

Ideas:

I have chosen the design I am going to be working on for my project, the wind turbine. I am going to be using the wind turbine and lighting up a lightbulb, but I am still unsure of the design where the light bulb should be placed.

Model 1:  Placing a mini lightbulb inside a house and being able to see through the windows with light shining through.

Model 2: Placing a larger light bulb (regular sized) and gluing on a sketch or image of the brain, so it resembles “Brainpop” or an “idea” when the light bulb is lit.

Model 1-2 ideas – label measurements, materials, fasteners/adhesives & techniques needed for construction

Make a plan for time and check/bring materials

Model 1:

  • Cardboard – school
  • DC generator with gear – school
  • electrical wire (thin) – school
  • wax or parchment paper – home
  • aluminum wire – school
  • mini light bulb – school
  • paint (white, red, yellow, brown) – school

Tools:

  • hot glue gun – school
  • glue stick – school
  • scissor – school
  • super glue – school
  • liquid white glue – school

 

Model 2:

  • Cardboard – school
  • DC generator with gear – school
  • electrical wire (thin) – school
  • aluminum wire – school
  • regular sized light bulb – school
  • paint (white, red, yellow, brown) – school

 

  • Tools:
  • hot glue gun – school
  • glue stick – school
  • printer – school
  • wire (for melting) – school
  • scissor – school
  • super glue – school
  • liquid white glue – school

EMBED Models (annotated sketches)

By this point, I have chosen my final design which is Model #1. Below is a photo of the plan and sketch I made in class including all the measurements and the materials, but I actually am going to make some changes, I am going to change the house into a mini Christmas tree and add more light bulbs (5-10) wrapping around the tree. So the sketch below will be a little different to my final project. Also, the wind turbine blades are going to be changed to an already pre-made one made out of plastic and I am not going to be making my own using cardboard.

Model 1: (revised version)

  • Wood
  • DC generator with gear
  • wind turbine blades/flaps (pre-made)
  • DC generator holder
  • mini light bulb(LED lights) with gear x5-10
  • mini Christmas tree (20cm)

Tools:

  • hot glue gun
  • glue stick
  • wood glue
  • scissor
  • super glue
  • liquid white glue

 

Procedure:

  •  block 1 – finding all the materials and make top part of the turbine (fan and generator)
  • block 2 – connect all the wires together following the tutorial (connect the generator to the LED lights)
  • block 3 – connecting all the led light together (use wire to connect led lights together in a circuit)
  • block 4 – finish up (wrap around Christmas tree and test it)

Blogpost #1: Define and Inquire

What is this engineering task?

This task is about either design or create a toy that converts energy, taking a renewable energy source and convert it into electrical energy, design and create a device that transfers energy or a device that can be used to learn physics.

What are you thinking about doing? (this can be multiple ideas)

I haven’t fully decided on a design I am going to be working on but I have a few ideas to consider:

  • Everyday objects that use the transfer or conversion of energy
    • Mini wind turbine
    • Wind-up toy car
    • Parachute
    • Paddle boat
    • Solar panel charger
    • Paper airplane launcher
    • Newton’s cradle

Embed images and links of ideas you like/don’t like

ANALYZE those ideas: What are the pros/cons about those ideas?

  • Mini wind turbine
    • effectively shows and fulfills the objective: taking renewable energy and turning it into electrical energy
    • a little difficult to make (many uses of wires and using the generator, and shaping the flaps of the turbine)
  • Wind-up toy car
    • can be used to learn physics
    • easy to understand and make
    • effectively shows the energy transfer
  • Parachute
    • difficult to make (uses many materials, not as simple as the picture shown above); needs candle and fire as well to resemble the actual one
    • help teach physics
  • Paddle boat
    • needs extra materials like water to work (inconvenient)
    • easy to make
    • shows the energy transfer effectively (easy to understand)
  • Paper airplane launcher
    • easy to make
    • use little materials
    • Maybe harder to understand when teaching physics, because it isn’t as popular there are many other alternatives ex. wind-up toy car that the clients are more familiar with which is easier to understand and is more effective in teaching physics or showing energy transfer than this design
  • Newton’s cradle
    • difficult to make (the measurements of the strings and the method of tieing the stings on the balls are hard to make exact)
    • needs extra materials (the balls used are hard to get, other alternatives ex. marbles, will not work as effectively)
    • hard to be original and add creative parts into it
    • very effective in showing the transfer of energy
  • Solar panel charger
    • easy to make
    • does not need many materials
    • solar panel efficiency (enough energy to charge a phone?)

I’m currently thinking about choosing either the wind-turbine or solar panel charger idea.

Wind energy – Since in many country/places on earth are lacking in the amount of fossil fuel needed to power for electricity, the wind turbine can help by using renewable wind energy and convert it into electrical energy, and there is no hazardous waste eliminated into the air. At the same time, wind is available easily and naturally all around the surface of the earth without having to dig for coal from the core of the earth.

ex. electrical energy, pumping water, food production..etc

Solar energy – Similar to the wind energy idea, but this design is using solar energy instead of wind energy. Still, using the same concept of using renewable energy to convert into electrical energy, the solar panel can collect energy radiating from the sun and convert it into actual electrical energy to be used in our daily lives. An idea for effective use of solar energy can be making a solar panel charger for your phone which can be used every day instead of using electricity from the outlet of your house. Also, this is similar to a portable battery charger, you can use it wherever there is sun. Which will also solve the problem for people who use their phone a lot on a daily basis and needs a portable battery charger.

ex. heating, electricity