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Student energy will soon help power Glencoe Elementary, literally

Posted by on February 18th, 2015 at 3:35 pm

Two plug-in electric bikes donated this month to Southeast Portland’s Glencoe Elementary will introduce students to the concept of pedal-powered energy.

“We, like all schools, have some students who need extra time each day expending their energy just to allow them to focus in class,” teacher Lisa Davidson explained in her project description on the fundraising website DonorsChoose.org. “The UpCycles will provide a unique opportunity for those students as well as the other students who will be excited to give the bike a whirl and help power the school.”

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The stationary generators will put out a negligible amount of actual energy, of course. The goal is mostly just to blow students’ minds.

“The connection that I want them to make is that I am a power plant, that I can make electricity using my muscle,” bike creator Adam Boesel says in the video above. “When you eat food, you’re a battery, and you store that energy. And when you get on this, you’re a power plant.”

Two bikes, provided by The Green Microgym, were purchased for $2,500 along with five solar panels designed to charge iPads and Chromebooks. With labor and processing fees, the cost came to $3,618, half of it from 12 donors and the other half from the Paul G. Allen Foundation.

Glencoe is a K-5 school located at 50th and Belmont in the heart of Southeast Portland’s grid, and as of last fall, 60 percent of the students were already walking, biking or rolling to school. So it’s no surprise that a neat demo project like this might connect with them.

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9 Comments
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    9watts February 18, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    Project sounds extremely cool.
    I hope they get past this part, though:
    “The stationary generators will put out a negligible amount of actual energy, of course. The goal is mostly just to blow students’ minds.”

    Learning just how much/how little energy we can generate using our leg muscles is I think a really important lesson. This fellow (David Butcher) has spent much of his adult life tinkering with this very subject, and he puts out rather more than a negligible amount.
    http://www.los-gatos.ca.us/davidbu/pedgen.html

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    scott February 19, 2015 at 8:54 am

    I disagree with this intensely.

    Schools already churn out most students feeling like they learned nothing and with zero critical thinking skills and now we are equating them with batteries.

    If they had an alternative energy lab where students could mess with things like this it would be different, but it says it right in the article, subdue active children and help them see themselves as nothing more than an energy source.

    Nice gift, horrible execution.

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      colton February 19, 2015 at 9:41 am

      “Nice gift, horrible execution.”

      Actually, it’s a nice gift and a good execution if you look at it through the right lens. It does teach about stored energy, it teaches about how little energy can be produced by a human (compared to what we use), it encourages energy efficient devices, etc.

      Viewing it from a cynical child labor standpoint is largely missing the point. I mean, obviously this isn’t the solution to our energy problems, but it does get the discussion started.

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        scott February 19, 2015 at 3:49 pm

        I’m not looking at it through that lens. Also not as child labor. It will be a punishment zone for hyperactivity within a month. I have no doubt.

        My silver lining is that it may help produce an american cyclist that can compete on the world stage.

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      El Biciclero February 19, 2015 at 9:58 am

      “…and now we are equating them with batteries.”

      “Why, oh why didn’t I take the blue pill?”

      I would hate to see this used as a “punishment” for hyper kids, and some kind of feedback about the power they are generating would be great. I don’t think “you’re a battery” was meant as “you’re just a battery”, but rather a revelation that your body can do amazing things and that energy takes many different forms and can be transmitted and transformed in ways they might not have thought about.

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        scott February 19, 2015 at 3:56 pm

        I admire your optimism. I have none when it relates to public schools.

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    Rob February 19, 2015 at 9:14 am

    I remember something like this as a child 45 years ago at the science museum. It left a lifelong impression to not leave lights and appliances on when not in use and not take energy for granted.

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    tnash February 19, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    “We, like all schools, have some students who need extra time each day expending their energy just to allow them to focus in class” — yikes. Katu investigative report on teachers who are forcing kids to cycle in 5,4,3,

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    Vance Longwell February 20, 2015 at 6:46 am

    Oh, yeah; Proglib conservative right wing fascists aren’t using public schools to indoctrinate, condition, and drive innocent children into the loving arms of the Proglib Church of Hate! Nothing to see here, move along. Good. Grief.

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