Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Workshop: Physics Curriculum

The physics portion of the curriculum focuses primarily with how the devices are built and run. It covers what materials are needed, how the fundamental parts of each device are built, and the physics behind the design and how each part actually works. This is probably the easiest section for people in the workshop, for most of them are trained technicians and easily grasp these ideas.

The following table illustrates our overall six tier curriculum on the physics of energy conversions. Each tier builds upon the next tier as well as introduces new physics concepts to better understand the fundamentals of energy.

Before beginning any of these devices (besides the bicycle or hand-crank generator), we make sure to build a model out of wood or plastic first. We have a model built for every design developed in Africa. After intense critique of the design and robust debate over which local materials should be used and how the device should be built (which may last several days), only then do we purchase the equipment and go to the garage to build. After building and testing each device, we then completely transfer to the Business of Energy curriculum to pilot each device. Here are some pages from the current draft of the physics curriculum, as written by Abigail Mechtenberg who has her doctorate in Applied Physics from the University of Michigan.

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