Let There Be Light!
7th grade students recently showcased research work for the Bwambo Healthcare Center in Tanzania. This research project was a collaboration of Math, Science, Art, and Communications. St. Croix Catholic partnered with Dr. Mark and Molly Druffner of Mission Doctors Association and Dr. Beda of the Bwambo Healthcare Center to bring a developing world challenge into our classrooms. Chuck Hentges, Environmental & Technological Studies Department St. Cloud State University and Director of Outreach and Resource-Minnesota Project Lead The Way, spent a morning with the students explaining the design process that’s used to solve such problems and addressed many of the questions the students were finding in their research work.
Students were presented with the following challenges:
Is it possible for the Bwambo Healthcare Center to operate only with solar-powered electricity?
Can it be done within the given budget?
Where should the panels be positioned and at what angle?
Among the project highlights, students learned how solar panels convert energy into electricity and how many kilowatts were needed to power certain necessities, such as light bulbs, Xray machines, and laptops. They had to determine if Dr. Beda could replace his reliance on the government-supplied electricity with their team’s solar solution. In art class, students learned the basic techniques of sketching, and now will be able to further develop these skills in their current Design & Modeling course. The challenges facing developing countries struck a chord with the young people, and many expressed sincere compassion and a desire to explore further how they might be able to help their brothers and sisters in Christ. Our young engineers also learned many real world lessons, such as how difficult it is to gather information from remote areas of the world and how difficult (but necessary) it is to connect various disciplines into a solution. We are hopeful that we might be able to offer more learning opportunities for our students with this fascinating global partnership.