Solar Scrapheap Challenge

26 February 2019

Scott Walker, Ogden Outreach Officer from Keele, has been visiting local schools with his Solar Scrapheap Challenge; a workshop designed to bring together elements of physics, engineering, electronics and environmental sustainability. Students are presented with a range of ‘scrap’ equipment, such as cables, crocodile clips, solar cells and capacitors as well as a set of basic instructions, in order to construct a solar powered vehicle.

The theory behind Solar PV cells is explored along with the environmental benefits of moving towards a carbon-free energy landscape. The challenge requires teamwork and problem-solving skills, and certainly leaves the children buzzing! After Scott's visit to the Meadows Primary School in Staffordshire, Class 4 have shared their science story.


Class 4 was thrilled to welcome the scientist Mr Scott Walker into the school to lead a session called 'Solar Scrapheap Challenge'. The challenge, which they willingly accepted, was to create a solar car using a variety of scrap pieces - including wires, aluminium rods and CDs.

The children were asked to problem solve how they could make a car using the pieces provided. They worked methodically in pairs, following the instructions given, to create their car structures and then a circuit with solar panels which they used to charge their battery under a lamp.

The classroom was electric – the children were buzzing with enthusiasm and relished the opportunity to use some new equipment in order to complete their scientific challenge. They certainly had to use their thinking hats to help them this morning to be successful.

Once they had charged their batteries, they connected them to their cars to see if they would move, and they did! It was amazing to see their constructions come to life.

A huge thank you to Mr Walker for the wonderful session; the children certainly enjoyed being scientists, solving problems and were able to apply their knowledge of electricity and circuits.

Amelia: "I think it was very fun because it taught us about engineering and science. It was awesome."

Isla: "I think the science workshop was really fun because we got to do some engineering by putting scrap together to make a cool car that was able to move."

Finlay: "It was really creative, and we got to learn about electricity with equipment we wouldn't have in school."

Travis: "It was fun because I couldn't make a solar panel car at home before, but now I know what I need to use to build one."
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