Bicycle Generator Project
Wind for Schools has worked with several teachers who expressed interest in
using bicycle generators to teach their students some fundamental concepts of
energy and basic mechanical, engineering, and electrical principles. With this
project we work with K-12 and college students to organize hands-on design and
construction of bike generators, which are then used in the classroom for fun
demonstrations. Our hope is to increase students' understanding and awareness
of energy topics using bike generators.
of the Project
In 2010, Jeff
Hines, a local Flagstaff teacher who also served as the first WindSenator in Arizona,
inspired us to pursue bicycle generators for use in K-12 classrooms. Shortly
after, we learned of an NAU student, Matt Petney, who had built a double-bike
generator, which included a battery for energy storage and an inverter and
outlet so normal 120-volt devices could be plugged into it. We purchased the system
from Matt and shared it with several interested teachers and classes as an
educational tool. Matt joined our team in fall 2011 to provide more technical
guidance to our staff and our teacher partners in building bike generators,
bike blenders, and more.
In fall 2011 and spring
2012, Marilla Lamb and Matt Petney visited two of our partner schools
(Flagstaff Junior Academy and The Orme School) to build bike blenders and a
bike generator with middle and high school students. The students were
presented with the design challenge, as well as tools and materials, and worked
with our staff to design and build the bikes. These bikes were used at several
school events, and in the classroom the following year as a teaching tool.
2011, Marilla Lamb wrote a grant to the NAU Green Fund to fund a
bicycle-powered phone and mp3 charging station, complete with energy meters so
students can see the energy they’re producing and the energy they're using, and
with transparent coverings so all components are visible. The project was
funded and a team of students designed and built the bike during 2012. The
completed charging station can be seen in NAU's engineering building. Now, a
team of electrical and mechanical engineering students are working on the
second iteration of the charging station, to improve its usability and
for Schools also applied for funding from the APS Leadership Grant program in
2012, and obtained nearly $5,000 to work with several teachers in Arizona at
some of our partner schools to build bicycle generators either in their science
classes or with their science clubs. We are building these bike generators with
five partner schools in spring 2013. Several energy lessons accompany the
bicycle generators that we build or work with in K-12 classrooms.
the Bike Generator in your Classroom
generator is a great tool for explaining difficult concepts like energy, power,
electricity, and energy conversions. When students use the bike generator, they
get a physical, hands-on understanding of these concepts. It’s also a fun
activity as students try to keep a ball in the air with a leaf blower, heat a
hair dryer, or light a bulb. Contact AZ Wind for Schools
if you would like to use our bike generator at your school!
on the links below for curriculum resources and to learn how to build a bike
APS Leadership Grant
This year the
Wind for Schools program was awarded a grant from Arizona Public Service to
support our Bicycle Generators project, which will allow us to implement energy
lessons and build bike generators with five of our partner schools. Through the
project, teachers and their students at the interested schools will gain
hands-on experience with energy, engineering, and design concepts, and will
develop a direct understanding of the math, physics, and engineering principles
underlying bicycle generators. Teachers and students will also be invited to
visit NAU for tours and presentations on NAU’s bicycle generators, the Green
Fund, and the energy research of NAU’s Institute for Sustainable Energy
We will be
working with teachers at Mount Elden Middle School, Coconino High School, STAR
School, Williams High School, and Northland Preparatory Academy to build bike
generators with their students.
2012, students working with Wind for Schools received money from the NAU Green
Fund to design and build a bicycle-powered charging station. The Eco-Pedaler is
used by students and faculty as an alternative source of power for charging
their electronic devices such as iPods and cell phones. The system generates
electricity when someone pedals the bicycle, which allows them to charge their
electronic device with the appropriate charger provided at the station.
Accompanying the system is educational information discussing the implications
of traditional energy sources and stressing the importance of new, renewable
energy technologies. In addition, users can see the amount of power they are
producing and compare it with the amount they are using. This provides students
with a way to understand and compare the amount of energy required to power an
electronic device like a cell phone with the amount of energy they are able to
produce pedaling a bicycle. The Eco-Pedaler is installed on the second floor of the
Engineering Building on the NAU campus.
Stories about the Eco-Pedaler have been featured
in various media sources. Click on the links below to read more.
Click on the link below to access a document with details and resources to help you build your own bicycle powered charging station.
A team of students in the junior-level
mechanical and electrical engineering design course at NAU are currently
working on designing a second iteration of the charging station to improve its
usability and versatility. This charging station will be mobile, will have a
more interactive display with additional information, and will provide AC power
so virtually all appliances can be powered with it.