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Energy Challenge


West Wales ECO Centre
The center is closed in 2013. (not available anymore)
age group
16 to 17 years
To create a lively and good-humoured challenge to young people, whilst promoting an awareness and understanding of the practical uses of renewable energy generation.
  • 4m x 4m x 2m timber (4)
  • 4m x 2m x 2m timber (10)
  • 8 inch x ½ inch bolts + washers (30)
  • pulley (2)
  • dynamo (1)
  • 18m rope
  • cleat (1)
  • 5 gall bucket or butt
  • mdf or chipboard or plywood panel
  • multimeter
  • Perspex box for waterwheel
  • waterwhee
  • wind turbine
  • solar panel
  • brick or breeze block
  • brackets
  • stationary mounted bike
  • car radio
  • speakers
  • wire and cable
  • batteries
  • fishing/climbing clip

Scenario: The team have been washed up with quite a store of usable items, it would seem. Apart from getting off the island the other main preoccupation is getting some sounds for the beach parties. The frame that has been constructed was to be used for shelter. But hey! Who needs shelter? It can be much more usefully employed as the infrastructure for a renewably powered rave machine.But with all this going on, it could really earn its money by getting everyone rescued as well………………..There are some things, which must be done. And some things, which mustn’t.

Mission: The mission is to construct the ‘generators’ as efficiently as possible and measure the output of power. We know that energy cannot be created from nothing, that it cannot be destroyed either.Utilising everyday concepts, there are five methods of practically demonstrating the generation of energy:All of these components are to be mounted on a gantry. This gantry will be a prepared kit easily constructed so as not to waste time.

Requirements for activity frame:

  • Perspex housing for water wheel, allowing for connection to motor, water in and water out.
  • A connection from this to a relay, which allows a radio to be powered by the solar panel. Set at a threshold amperage.
  • Generator mounted on frame, attached to bike, which is statically mounted, and the rear wheel is adapted for turning the generator.
  • Wind turbine connected to pump on water butt for pumping water up to water tank on top of frame.
  • Pulleys attached to frame so that a falling weight will also charge, or turn, the generator.

Rules and regulations:This is a competition as well as the opportunity to show your peers and your teachers what a bunch of resourceful wizards you all are. In order to have a fair scoring system all teams will be marked using the same criteria. None of which are related to the weather. That just wouldn’t be fair, now would it?You will be assessed on:-· the amount of power generated from each measurable device· the efficiency of the application· the time it takes to complete the overall objectives· some energy related questionsThe solar panel, which is included, has a use. Except in extremely overcast conditions it will produce power. However, that would be too easy. You can not use the panel directly for all devices which need power.The supervisors reserve the right to step in at any time if there is a difficulty or a misuse of some of the equipment.The supervisors are responsible for measuring the output of the devices.In some instances you have been presented with more than one device for a particular task. You must assess which is the most efficient for the task in hand, by whatever means you deem necessary.

Riddles: (clues, if you need them!)

  1. Get on your bike, use all your might, and raise the water to a reasonable height.
  2. Take time to think about the source the best one wins most points, of course.
  3. Using gravity and the water flow try and make the radio go.
  4. The power for the radio is about 93 million miles or so away from us at this very minute. Listen to the tape, you just might win it. (Or something that can make use of it.)
  5. When the radio plays assume it says “A ship is passing by”
  6. Raise the alarm at passing ships using your weight but not your lips.

Scoring the Energy Challenge:The scoring system must be fair and absolute, that is we can’t base the scoring on anything that may favour one school one day and not the other schools on their days, e.g. sun based scores etc. Points will be awarded on a fixed system. This the fairest way. They will then be added up. The school with the most points wins.This means it will be possible to have produced the highest output from a particular piece of equipment, but still lose out because of the decisions made on the way.
For example, there will be 3 appliances available to be attached to the bike, one of which is more efficient than the others, one of which won’t actually work because it is a starter motor. The teams can check out each one before making their choice, but if they choose the best one first they get 10 points. If they choose it second after having a go with one of the others they get 5 points and third, they get 2 points.And similarly the nozzles for the water wheel and the pulleys for the potential energy applications.Where it is measurable the output achieved will be totted up. This will count towards the overall total.Also measured is the time to pump the water for the water wheel, this is basic human strength and energy. Not strictly fair you might say, but measurable none the less.They will be scored also on how long it takes. If they don’t do it in two hours they have 5 points deducted. The school who does it the quickest will get 10 points. But obviously can’t score that until they have all had a go.

After many months of preparation, inspiration and perspiration the annual Energy Challenge finally took place. It was organised by the West Wales ECO Centre and sponsored by Energy Enterprise Ltd.Fishguard High School, Sir Thomas Picton School and Ysgol Gyfun Dewi Sant undertook the Challenge at the end of their Summer term. The staff from the Centre went into each school on separate days with the assortment of equipment and props the participants had to employ to the best of their ability in order to generate electricity from a variety of sources.The challenge was for the teams to follow some clues and work out how to generate energy for various tasks efficiently. These tasks included: pumping water from ground level to a raised tank; using this store of water to generate electricity to switch a relay for a radio to play (powered by the sun); and using their own bodyweight to sound an alarm bell. There were choices to be made regarding the devices employed for the tasks, such as; which was the most suitable output nozzle to spray water over a water wheel; which was the best generator to turn for power for the pump; how to configure a pulley system so that it would maximise the effect of a person’s weight pulling down on it and thus turn the generator sufficiently.All of the participants rose to the challenge admirably, each displaying ingenuity and technical expertise in the different areas of work.It was a delight to watch them work out the trickier problems. And a pleasure to see six months of planning come to fruition with the enthusiasm which the schools displayed.The Challenge was also a competition this year, with the prize being a small renewable energy kit. Congratulations to Fishguard who carried the day by getting the most points, awarded for efficiency and output. The prize consists of a Renewable Energy Kit, worth about £500, for use in school projects