Fossil fuels are a big problem. They are non-renewable, unsustainable, create air pollution, and their production and consumption create greenhouse gases that are making our planet a perilous place to live. On the other hand, we love to use electricity! We love to use cell phones, play video games, watch movies and listen to music, cook food, and live in climate controlled houses. What can we do? How can we have our music, phones and video games while still living sustainably and enjoying a healthy planet? The Centaurus CAP class found one way to create a renewable energy source: we built a bike that produces electricity to power our favorite things.
This project was a big collaboration. Our class is really diverse. Most of the students are new to the United States and haven’t gotten to do hands-on learning in school. The class speaks five different languages. Some of the students are neuro-diverse and we all have different personalities, experiences, interests and ages. In order for us to do a project of this size we were going to need some serious help. Imagine teaching 22 students what a capacitor is (I wasn’t sure I even knew!!) Now imagine learning about capacitors and inverters in a language that isn’t your own!
Enter the Grand Energy Bike Collaboration. Joseph Callahan from EnergiLab taught us how to make the bike, acquired the materials for us and walked us through step by step. Joe really put his huge heart and soul into the project, coming into our class almost every day, planning what we would do, laying it all out for us and working with the students. Lauren (the ELD/CAP teacher) and I did our best to create a learning framework so students could understand what we were learning. The Centaurus Engineering dept loaned us a great place to work on the project and amazing student engineers who are fluent in Spanish to help us. Martin Ogle from the City of Lafayette plugged us into a grant from Lafayette Energy Sustainability Advisory Committee (LESAC) to pay for the whole thing. And Robb Menzies from LESAC even came and helped run a build group. And not least, the Centaurus CAP students patiently worked together and built something innovative and amazing.
When the bike and substation were finished, the project culminated in a big event to introduce the Centaurus community to their new Energybike—which can not only play music on a fabulous sound system, it can also charge phones and computers. We had a dance party during lunch on the biggest day of finals and everyone got to let loose and have fun. The Centaurus CAP Class hopes that they inspire you to approach everything with an innovative mindset that keeps our natural environment at the highest priority. Thank you everyone!
Written by Centaurus High School CAP instructor Erin Angel
See more photos from the Centaurus CAP class here!
CAP at Centaurus High School is made possible in part by a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) through the Nature Kids/Jovenes de la Naturaleza program. Click here to learn more!