Sustainable Kingston is a non-profit organization striving to integrate the value of sustainability into the community. As part of their objectives, they are trying to increase the awareness of sustainability through easy to understand demonstrations and teaching aids.
The students working on this project were asked to design and construct a generator prototype, aiming to produce up to 40 Watts of power through oscillating kinetic motion. The development of professional skills, such as construction skills, concept visualization, critical analysis, and an understanding of theoretical concepts allowed the team to complete a functional prototype. The product needed to show how much mechanical energy is required to operate common electronic devices, while including a universal outlet that would allow it to connect with a variety of appliances. The prototype also needed to be simple so that it could be used as a teaching device about the transformation of mechanical motion to electrical energy.
Initially, the team researched several different methods of energy conversion, as well as the physics behind the actual generation of electricity using magnets and copper coils. The students were able to choose the most viable model using a self-constructed assessment matrix. Although generators are readily available, the client wanted all of the components to be visually apparent, thus requiring the students to construct their own. Working under several constraints, the students were able to overcome obstacles associated with material acquisition, client requirements, and construction limitations to produce a functional design. Three teams were assigned to this task, and two of the three prototypes that were presented to Sustainable Kingston were used as interactive displays during Earth Hour: Kingston Unplugged.