As part of its Blue Economy® campaign, non-profit organization ZERAP implemented a new, transferable and interdisciplinary project week on the subject “Energy Self-Sufficient Classroom” at the Lutheran School Berlin Center (ESBZ) in September 2012.
Enthusiastically, 14-year-old student Lydia explains the functional principle of the self-built “sewage” system in her classroom. “It cleans wastewater by conveying it through hoses and buckets with different deposits and plants into an aquarium before it is pumped up into the system again.” This technology is only one of many which the students of the comprehensive and integrative class comprising grades 7 to 9 built by themselves during the project week. The development of these technologies contribute to create an energy self-sufficient classroom.
The idea for the project resulted from a one-year cooperation with the school to renew the science teaching. The aim was to create structures which enable the students to find their own ways of gaining knowledge, develop competences and unfold their individual abilities. This is achieved by working independently, leaving room for experimenting and establishing experience-relations as well as by application of the methods Learning by Teaching and Learning by Engagement , given the fact that in science, everything is connected. Additionally the project week made it possible for the students to experience learning as a pleasant, creative and inspiring process. Further goals of the interdisciplinary project week were to sensitize the pupils towards sustainability, inspire them about related professions, and make the children lose their dread of do-it-yourself-constructions. The interdisciplinary mixture of theory, experiments, lectures and practice also contributed to a better learning success.
On the first two days, the students worked through interdisciplinary study contents especially compiled for the project, including small experiments to consolidate the knowledge. They split into the four groups Water & Plants, Energy Conversion, Solar & Electricity and Climate Change. As the final step of the theoretical phase the students passed on the results of their learning to their classmates according to the Teaching Principle “Students Teach Students”.
On the third day, the practical phase began with lectures by professionals in order to inform the students about job profiles and to familiarize them with the addressed topics. Subsequently, the scholars started to build the constructions with partial guidance from the professionals. In particular the executions were supported voluntarily by solar expert Thomas Stodder of EB-Solarled as well as by physicist Moritz von Buttlar who invented the idea of an LED-lamp made of beverage cans.
Besides the wastewater treatment, the students also built an electric circuit based on 12 Volts including a battery, a charge controller and different connections. It is fed by solar modules on the school roof. Furthermore, the students constructed a 12-Volt room lighting with LED ceiling light and LED reading lights self-brazed of recycled beverage cans as well as a current generator tinkered out of an old bicycle and pieces from the scrap yard. They also insulated the decayed old windows of the building as far as possible with insulation foil and rubber seal, kindly sponsored by tesa, pointed out energy-saving deficits and developed specific actions for the classroom.
The project week was a pilot project. In the next steps, the concept will be revised by the students and made transferable to other classes and schools in order to give them the possibility to experience this innovative project week, just as Lydia and her classmates did.
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