Engineering Brightness -Virtual


Based upon the Engineering Brightness Project

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Use the design process to design an LED light system, chargeable with solar panels, intended for school aged children in developing countries

Driving Questions

  • What are the components of a simple LED light circuit
  • How can solar panels charge batteries?
  • How to use the Design Process steps to adapt to errors, mistakes, or lack of knowledge
  • What don’t I know and how/where can I find the answer(s)?

Define goal and research

Now’s the time to ask any questions about the actual problem.  Now, start a ‘question’ list.  What might you need to know to successfully solve this design problem.  At the same time, start research the web.  Who’s already offered a solution?  What does their design look like? How does it work? How is it recharged?  How long does the light last?  Bookmark these sites for reference.

Sketching and Drafting

When you follow the Design Process, you first research, then brainstorm (multiple unique sketches), pick one of the solutions you think will work the best, draft it using 3D software (like Google Sketchup) and then build a prototype.

Criteria ( See your Google Classroom Assignments for specifics)

  • Sketches:
    • Must be your own design – not ‘borrowed’ from online or from a friend
    • Sketches are ‘labeled’   Each sketch should have labeled:  
      • Your name and period designator at the top
      • On/off switch
      • What material you intend it to be made of
      • The direction of the light beam or 360
      • Approximate length, width, height dimensions in millimeter or inches
      • Description of how the light will be held by hand, stand on a table, and / or be attached to a wall, hang from a line on a ceiling, etc.
    • Each sketch should be uniquely different
    • Lights must be battery powered and to be charged using solar panels – either as part of the design or as a separate part.
      • Ports for solar panels?
      • Body of light must allow the fitting of the battery holder (will be 3 different ones for you to choose)
    • Should be small, lightweight, and easy to use and charge.
    • Each sketch is 25 points; and are grade individually.  Sketches should be on their own individual paper and NOT coupled with the other sketches.  Sketches using isometric or orthographic views will receive up to 25 extra credit points
  • 3D design
    • Must complete a full scale Google Sketchup draft (in mm)
  • Prototype
    • Must build a full scale prototype (without electronics)(You’re more than welcome to add electronics, but ONLY with parental help)
  • Presentation
    • Must create a movie describing your design and how it works

Constraints (Constraints are limitations on the design)

  • Time
  • Materials you have on hand at home
  • Dimensions of your contraption should NOT exceed: 5″ x 5″ x 7″  or in metric: 130mm x 130mm x 180 mm


This activity is what’s called “Project Based Learning” or PBL.  Students are given a problem/task to solve, criteria/constraints, deadlines, and that’s it.  All assignments will be listed, with due dates, in Google Classroom. Your grade will be based on what you get done in the time you have available.

    • Sketches – in orthographic or isometric views: 100 pts  
      In your composition book.  Labeled.  With one or more paragraphs that explain functions, materials
    • Google Sketchup file:  100 pts
      skp as well as png files; Minimal – must include overall dimensions (Length, width, depth).  File names appropriately named (period first name last initial descriptor)
    • Scale model: 100 pts
      You may choose inches or metric; realistic; attention to detail.  Use whatever materials you wish.  Light is a non-working prototype – meaning, that you’re just simulating what it might look like.
    • Movie:  50 pts
      Describes in detail how the light might be used, how it’s charged, direction of light, and any other information that you can include about materials, electronics, etc.
      Example 1   Example 2

Reference Links

  • LED Links
    All kinds of links focused on LED’s
  • Links:  Charging Batteries with solar panels
  • Luminaid
    When architecture graduate students Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta were asked to design a product to assist post-earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, they considered the dangerous conditions at night in the tent cities and turned their attention to another critical need: Light
  • Sun King
    Over 2 billion people around the world live off the reliable electric grid. Our tireless last mile distribution partners and village sales agents help get our low cost Sun King™ solar devices to off-grid families in need so they can live safer, brighter and more productive lives.
  • Portable Light Project
    The Portable Light Project enables people in the developing world to create and own solar textiles, providing clean energy and light to improve education, health care and sustainable economic development, while strengthening the local craft traditions of diverse cultures and global regions.
  • Panasonic to Release Solar LED Lantern
    Panasonic Corporation announced that it will start selling a solar LED lantern that doubles as a charger for people living in areas without electricity. With a built-in rechargeable battery to store solar energy during the day, the lantern provides light at night and can also be used as a power source to charge small mobile devices, such as mobile phones.
  • D.Light
    d.light is a global leader in delivering affordable solar-powered solutions designed for the two billion people in the developing world without access to reliable energy. A social enterprise, d.light provides distributed solar energy solutions for households and small businesses that are transforming the way people all over the world use and pay for energy.
  • Gravity Light
    As a social enterprise, Deciwatt Ltd supports The GravityLight Foundation to offer a clean, safe and affordable alternative to dangerous, polluting and expensive kerosene lamps, used by over 1.1 billion people. Learn more about The GravityLight Foundation and their plans to tackle poverty with GravityLight.

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