Over the summer, PPL PWR had the honor to deliver a series of workshops for the UCL Summer School. This inspiring UCL project aims to encourage Year 12/13 students to apply to study STEM subjects at university, by providing laboratory experience and exposing them to important areas of research around sustainability.
Over four sessions, students tackled several different topics:
Design thinking – Ideation and Sketching
Students learned the process at the core of any innovation. This included evaluating ‘personas’, ideating, and doing sketching exercises to improve their design skills. By the end of this workshop, students were able to: work in teams; come up with ideas that met a need and were relevant; understand the different stages of ideation and its place in the whole series; understand and adopt a human-centric approach, and iterate their idea until they obtained a minimum viable product.
Students were introduced to the concept of biofuels, which was followed by a hands-on activity of terrarium building. This workshop enabled students to: know the difference between biofuels and fossil fuels in terms of carbon capture; understand the problems of climate change, soil erosion, nutrient depletion; and how biochar could help to address these problems (while acknowledging it is subject to various pros and cons).
Students discovered the theory around electrochemical series and built various voltmeters, seeing what worked best. After this workshop, students were able to: explain the idea of conservation of energy, the need for energy storage (intermittency); set up an energy storage system while considering scale, how to make the best battery from the materials available; potential engineering trade-offs, and the role of research.
Students received an overview of the theory around solar energy, followed by a hands-on activity where they built their own Solar PV (photovoltaic cell). Thanks to this workshop, students understood: the conversion of solar energy into usable energy; the implications of solar for energy users; factors that affect the amount of electrical energy we can collect (angle & distance); and learned how to build DIY solar PV for their personal use.
All sessions were fulfilling and enriching sessions enjoyed by both the students and the PPL PWR team.