Students and teachers from Holy Family Catholic High School partnered with the We Share Solar Solutionary Program to build two solar suitcases.
The We Share Solar Solutionary Program is an interdisciplinary, solar education curriculum that links practical engineering skills with global humanitarianism, according to a Holy Family press release.
The Solar Suitcase program allows students to learn about global energy access, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and social entrepreneurship. Each suitcase is a 12-volt DC stand-alone solar power system that can power lights, cell phones and small electronic devices.
When paired with appropriately sized solar panels and batteries, the Solar Suitcase can handle up to 100 watts of incoming solar electricity. It can light up three average-sized rooms, as well as serve as a charging station. It is an easy-to-use, easy-to-transport complete solar power system and a valuable resource for energy-scarce communities, the release stated.
After assembly, Holy Family shipped its two completed suitcases back to the manufacturer to be professionally tested for construction quality and system reliability. Once the suitcases are tested, a deployment kit containing installation components will be added before shipment to the Rwamwanja refugee settlement in Southwest Uganda.
Upon arrival in Uganda, each system will be paired with a battery. A solar panel is then purchased in-country to support the local economy and create a network that can provide replacement parts.
The project was part of the school’s May Term course, “Experiments in Solar Energy,” co-taught by Holy Family physics teacher Dr. Jim Tisel and social studies teacher Patrick Maus.
“We have two main products that resulted from this experience. The first is two solar suitcases that will provide energy at a hospital in Uganda, almost 8,000 miles away from Holy Family. The second significant outcome is that our students now have electrical skills and a further understanding of sustainable energy concepts. I think that’s a terrific way to end a school year,” stated Tisel.