Solar Park Light - A Bilingual Project by the Solar Assistants

Solar Park Light - A Bilingual Project by the Solar Assistants

In the course of their studies to become assistants in solarthermal and photovoltaic systems students were given the task to design and develop an energy saving light for illuminating a park path without using electricity lines. The lessons were taught in English to meet the increasing vocational demand for English language skills.

The first criteria was formulated: The light should only shine for a fixed period of time when it was dark and a person walked along the section of the path that the respective light had to illuminate. The energy supply should be realized using a solar module that charges an accumulator during daytime.

After drawing a sketch to show what the park light may look like, the Internet search started. This led to dark switches, which were carried out with discrete electronic components most of the time. The students organized themselves in small groups and were provided with boxes of electronic components and measuring instruments (multimeters). Their task was to acquire background knowledge about the function of the electronic components used in a dark switch. This had to be done in a self-organized way using English language websites like the" Electronics Club" website (http://electronicsclub.info/). They learned about "light dependent resistors", "voltage dividers", "transistors", "light emitting diodes" and further components. This information together with experiment reports about the electronic components and circuits were documented in English in a project folder. In addition other modules like the timer-IC 555 and a motion detector (from a car alarm) were studied. The teacher introduced phrases used in technical communication to supplement the technical knowledge as the students had to speak English in their teams when doing experiments. Also the classes were taught in a computer room so that the students had access to technical websites and online dictionaries.

The set-up of the complete park light (controller and photovoltaic system) in the electronics lab and the completion of the project folder were the final project steps. Plans for the future include implementing the controller for the solar park light (dark switch, timer and motion detector) using a digital microcontroller on an Arduino-board.