anna selonick

Generating Responsible Energy Education Now (GREEN)

GREEN is a bicycle powered generator with a computer interface that displays units of energy generated with clean and unclean energy equivalents. Designed for use in a classroom, it leverages the classroom community to teach users about the relation between individual action and collective impact. As students take turns on the same bicycle, the interface allows them to see how their individual contribution to responsible energy generation is amplified by the contributions of their peers.

skills

  • JavaScript
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Python
  • Tangible Interaction
  • Social Impact
  • Education
The user pedals in place while watching the real time feedback on the computer interface. The user races to see if they could produce energy faster than one pound of burning coal. The interface then shows the user’s contribution to the aggregate energy that the class produces. To help the kids better understand the impact of their efforts, a summary page displays the amount of energy their class creates in terms of energy required to run popular electronics. The summary page shows the pounds of carbon dioxide that their class could save by utilizing renewable energy instead of coal.

Process

Research

Based on a study conducted by MIT, there has been a 100% increase in both the duration and intensity of natural calamities occurring on earth since the 1970’s, particularly tropical storms and hurricanes. Many of the causes and impacts of climate change are either geographically and temporally distant for most Americans or are too complex or abstract to easily comprehend.

Ideation

I led our multidisciplinary team of computer science and learning science students in a brainstorming session in which we addressed the question: how can we teach kids how their individual behaviors relate to aggregate environmental consequences? We then categorized our ideas by learning objectives, technical feasibility and relevant learning theories to determine which idea to pursue.

Prototype

In the final prototype, a moving bar graph compares the Watts generated on average by burning one pound of coal in terms of a bicycle racing a lump of coal. I created this analogy to help kids understand that Watts is a rate of energy production similar to velocity. While the user bikes faster or slower, real time feedback creates an embodied learning experience to quantify a Watt and the energy required to run basic electronics such as a Playstation.