Solar-Powered Mobile Classrooms

About 60 years ago, library vans brought the joy of learning and reading to semi-rural / rural areas of our great nation. The operative slogan then was, “Be all you can be-read”. Now in the digital age the need to maintain a grip on life-long learning is even more crucial to realize one’s potential, for we live in an unforgiving global economy.

Many of us living in a developed country merely need to access a hand-held device to keep abreast of what is happening. For African students living in remote, far off-the-grid locations, learning about computers and digital technology is virtually impossible. But what if the digital world were brought to them?

Solar-Powered Mobile Classrooms

That’s the idea behind the DigiTruck project, a fledgling initiative, rolling out in 2016, that hopes to deploy a fleet of mobile, solar-powered digital classrooms that can travel self-sufficiently to rural African communities. A standard 40-foot shipping container is the new school house in rural areas-fitted with solar panels and a power management system designed for extended off-the-grid use. The container can be transported via standard tractor-trailer trucks.

Solar-Powered Mobile Classrooms

Inside the mobile classroom, are workstations stocked with refurbished computer equipment, including laptops, routers, a large LED display screen and a printer. The classroom can accommodate up to 18 students and run off solar energy and rechargeable battery reserves for days at a time.

The DigiTruck can also be used as a mobile health center or training space, depending on what’s needed.

Thomas Edison on Time Magazine“I have more respect for the fellow with a single idea who gets there than for the fellow with a thousand ideas who does nothing.”

Time® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

Share

Edison–Everything Old is New Again

Think of graphite, perhaps in a pencil point, that allows you to write on paper. Now further engage your imagination to create a mental image of one-single layer of graphite-called graphene-the atoms of which are arranged in a honeycomb (hexagonal) lattice. First successfully isolated in 2003, graphene has many potential uses, and no doubt many more as it’s cost to manufacture drops.

A team of researchers from South Korea, Columbia’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Stanford University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have combined their talents to create the world’s thinnest light bulb (see photo below)-based on a graphene filament.

Everything Old Is New Again

According to Yun Daniel Park, professor of physics and astronomy at Seoul National University, this light bulb work takes a page from Edison’s playbook. “Edison originally used carbon as a filament for his light bulb, and here we are going back to the same element, but using it in its pure form—graphene—and at its ultimate size limit—one atom thick.”

Another important aspect of this team’s work could be the ability to generate light on the surface of a chip, possibly leading to fully integrated photonic circuits that would, in theory, use light to carry information. Optical computing is considered the next bold step in increasing computation power and versatility.

Researchers at Manchester University in England are using graphene to radically extend LED-based bulbs. Coating the LEDs with graphene could make them up to 10 percent more efficient than traditional LED lights (better heat dissipation). It’s expected to be priced competitively to current LED models when it goes on sale later this year.

Tom … have you been listening to all this? Everything old (1879 or so) is new again … and better! See some of Edison’s original carbonized thread filament light bulbs in photo below.

Everything Old Is New Again

Editor’s Note
Something to ponder about carbon-which can come in different forms (allotropes). Allotropes are different structural modifications of an element. Graphite/graphene and diamonds are common but different forms of carbon; and more new forms are still being discovered and researched. Graphene is the strongest material ever recorded, 300+ times stronger than the best structural steels; and 40+times stronger than diamonds.

Thomas Edison on Time MagazineThomas Edison said, “If we all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves …”

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

Share

Edison & Einstein: Disruptors Inc.

These iconic men, pre-eminent free thinkers, changed our world.

They are the original, and most well-known, disruptors … Disruptors, Inc. TIME Magazine featured both men with special issues over the years to honor their spirit of innovation. Here are two.

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

Time® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

Edison disrupted the 1880s technology of illumination, changing it from the use of whale oil, kerosene, candles and manufactured gas to electric lighting-completely upsetting the traditional business model. He also introduced electricity in commercial applications such as factories, stores, and manufacturing. His electric light bulb/power station concept is over 135- years old. He also went on to develop the phonograph and motion pictures. His application of commercial R&D labs completely disrupted the then popular model of the lone-wolf basement/garage inventor-and gave us the team-based new product development model we refer to as technology driven progress.

Einstein disrupted the basis of late 19th century physics to give us radical new perspectives about our world and universe. His creative work yielded the theory of general relatively [which is now celebrating its 100-year anniversary], new ways to understand gravity as a warping of space-time, the conversion of mass to energy [atomic power], and the foundations for solid state electronics. Throughout his life, Einstein attempted to continuously disrupt physics by boiling down the great laws to a just a few powerful concepts.

Interestingly, both men had some trouble with school and the rigid teaching protocols of the day; both having their future potential vastly underestimated by their teachers. Edison and Einstein were operating in the realm of both content knowledge and how to use it (process)–different from what traditional schools valued … testing for content knowledge.

Edison & Einstein are totally consistent with the STEM educational paradigm now sweeping the nation- the inter-mixing of content and process; the championing of creativity and innovation. It is all about problem-solving, asking questions and following through.

Be like Edison & Einstein. Change the world! Check them out at:

“If we all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves….” [Thomas Edison]

Share