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Age Range: 11-14
Duration: 60 or more mins
  • D&T
  • Engineering

Sustainable lighting design

Designing and making a sustainably powered light

In this activity learners will use the theme of National Earth Day to design and make a wind powered reading light.  

Approximately 1 billion people worldwide, or 15% of the total population, have no access to mains electricity. How could a lamp be powered for children living in these conditions to enable them to read and study at night?

This fun engineering project for KS3 will allow students to embrace sustainable engineering as they learn to combine scientific principles with artistic flair to craft their unique and planet-friendly light.

Activity introduction

This activity is one of a set of free STEM resources designed to allow learners to use seasonal themes to support the delivery of key topics within design & technology, maths and science. This resource is based on National Earth Day.

Learners will use the theme of National Earth Day to design and make a reading lamp for children living in places without access to mains electricity. A renewable energy source, such as the wind, must power the lamp.

Students will be provided with a diverse array of appropriate components to choose from. These components may include motors/generators, high-bright LEDs or lamps, block connectors, wires/cables, and materials for crafting turbine blades (please refer to the resources section of the lesson plan for details).

To further enhance the activity, learners might be allotted a budget for their final product, with each component being assigned a specific cost, simulating a shop setting.

The sketches for their designs can be created using CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software, leveraging technology to bring their ideas to life. Alternatively, learners can showcase their creativity by hand-drawing the sketches, depending on the availability of resources and time constraints. The goal is to encourage imagination, problem-solving, and practical application, empowering the students to explore sustainable engineering concepts through this engaging and resourceful learning opportunity.

This activity could be used as a main lesson to teach about the benefits of using renewable energy and how it can help solve social problems. It could also be used as part of a wider scheme of learning focussing on sustainability and the 6Rs (rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, repair).

What you will need

  • Hi-bright light emitting diodes (LEDs).
  • Block connectors with two pin connections at either end, or solder and soldering equipment.
  • Insulation tape.
  • Red and black wires or crocodile clips.
  • A low power DC generator/motor (a motor working in reverse acts as a generator).
  • Pre-made or purchased turbine blades to attach to the generator.

The engineering context

Engineers bear a social and ethical obligation to consider the environmental impact when addressing design challenges. Understanding how to generate greener energy is imperative for aspiring electrical or electronic engineers, given that the renewable energy sector is one of the rapidly expanding industries in the field of engineering.

Suggested learning outcomes

By the end of this activity, students will be able to understand what is meant by, and the need for, renewable energy. They will be able to design and make a sustainably powered light, and they will understand how wind turbines work.

Download the free activity sheet below!

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable so that you can tailor them to your students and your schools’ needs.

The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, helpful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in the four devolved UK nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Please share your classroom learning highlights with us @IETeducation

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