Solar-Powered Projectors Bring Science Into Classrooms in Developing Countries

frankdouwes/CC BY 2.0

For many classrooms in developing countries, it can be difficult to give students lessons in areas like science and technology for the lack of learning tools. This is especially true if those learning tools require electricity, which can be a precious resource in rural areas. However, the University of Southampton is working on a project that will provide hands-on science and technology experience for students.

University of South Hampton states, "Professor Tony Rest, a visiting Chemistry academic at the University of Southampton, and Keith Wilkinson, formerly a teacher at the International School at Lusaka in Zambia, have devised a solar-powered solution based on a digital projector and low-cost solar energy panels so that students can gain access to IT and other modern teaching methods."

The new solution utilizes mini projectors, that use only 50 watts of power versus the usual 200-300 watts. This means that using battery-powered projectors run off of solar energy is possible -- and that means that students have access to more multi-media tools for students to use for learning.

Professor Rest notes, “With drawbacks to petrol generators, due to difficulties in getting supplies and safety hazards, solar energy generators have become available at cost-effective prices and provide a sustainable answer as rural schools have an abundance of the basic energy source required to power them - sunshine... These experiences [of hands-on work with technology and new learning materials] can be extended to other science subjects from physics, biology and maths, to subjects involving practical elements, such as engineering, and to craft subjects, including plumbing, carpentry, and catering, where students need to see how to acquire skills. By extending the breadth of subjects benefiting from the use of IT, the overall cost of using a solar energy generator is reduced. Another spin-off is that students in rural schools gain access to valuable IT skills.”

Getting technology tools into schools in developing countries is always a practice in creativity. For example, getting laptops to students in classrooms in Afghanistan also means getting some smart way of powering those laptops in place, and for one classroom that means pedal power. In other areas, it means developing entirely new tools like the I-Slate. These uses of technology in classrooms thus not only help educate school kids that may otherwise never see these devices, but also requires designers, engineers and philanthropic organizations to think harder about how to provide for school kids in a way that is practical and sometimes more environmentally conscious than the tools students in developed nations use on a daily basis.

Tags: Education | Electronics | Gadgets | Solar Power