George Lucas Educational Foundation

Student Service Learning Project Needs Sponsors/Grants- Please help!

Student Service Learning Project Needs Sponsors/Grants- Please help!

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Our school is in the third year of implementing Green Learning initiatives. This year, my 6th grade students are starting community service learning projects to support our Green Learning initiatives. One student is trying to purchase a "Pedal-a-Watt" bicycle for the school in order to experience the amount of effort a human body must provide in order to power one desktop computer (and simultaneously reduce the amount of electricity being used). The Pedal-a Watt will cost $1055. He is planning to ask for donations locally and also try to write a mini-grant for at least $500 of it. If you know of any mini-grants or foundations that would be promising, PLEASE let us know! Thanks so much...

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Anne Shaw's picture
Anne Shaw
Director, 21st Century Schools

Instead of spending $1,050 on a system why not have your students get into teams, conduct research, then design a system they can build themselves. This activity will also provide them with skills for critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, communication, and valuable research skills. It will be fun and engaging

Here's one way it can be done for about $150:

To make a 12 volt power system for charging batteries or a 110 volt inverter system.

Go to a pawn shop and buy a cheap bicycle, or if someone has one that isn't being used get them to loan it to you.

Get one 12 volt bicycle generator and attach that to a 12 volt battery. This make a complete 12 volt charging system Use a cheap volt ohm meter to read the charge in the battery. Volt ohm meters can be purchased for under $20 at Harbor Freight Tools.

Buy a 12 volt dc to 110 volt ac power inverter and connect to battery. You now have a complete 110 volt power system capable of running low wattage devices such as radios, laptop computers etc.

You could also have some volunteers come in and help out. You'll find lots of people with electrical engineering skills in the local ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League).

See the following videos on YouTube.

Bicycle Generator

Here's one with 3 men riding bikes to power a laptop computer -

Supplies you can get at Harbor Freight Tools:
400 Watt Continuous/800 Watt Peak Power Inverter Item #66814 is $29.99
AC/DC Digital Multimeter Item #37772 Regular price: $24.99 Sale:$19.99

Supplies from

Generator - 12V 6W Bicycle Light Power, SKU L056 $16.99

Supplies from an auto parts salvage: A heavy car or truck battery can be purchased at a auto parts salvage for probably under $50.00

Anne Shaw's picture
Anne Shaw
Director, 21st Century Schools

You could try or

Although Kickstarer is more for the arts, it does have many projects related to the environment. Mainly the funding for it is derived through a process known as social sourcing, or crowd sourcing, and you need a pretty good network to make it happen. But if you posted it and got 1,000 people to donate a dollar each, you'd have it. Just have to get the word out to your community.

SP's picture

Great idea Anne! I wish there were more DIY green projects out there like this. Do you know of any good books or websites for this purpose?

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