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Groovy Solar-Powered Gadgets for Summertime Fun

U.S. landfills are littered with 2.4 billion batteries every year, leaving toxins in our groundwater supply. Ditching battery-operated gadgets is one way you can make a conscious environmental statement. There are many gadgets that use the sun’s solar power instead of batteries as the main source to fuel energy. Check out these groovy solar-powered gadgets that you and your STEMists can use in your efforts to go green.


Solar-Powered Lawn Mower

Economical, clean, low-maintenance solar-powered lawn mowers are at the forefront of the fast-growing green, renewable energy movement. A solar-powered lawn mower harnesses the sun’s energy to produce the electrical current required to run the mower.

SOFT Rockers

The solar powered lounge chair recharges you and your gadgets.  Designed by a team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the SOFT Rockers are disguised as outdoor rocking furniture in MIT’s Killian Court.  The unconventional futuristic charging stations use the human power of balance to create an interactive 1.5 axis 35 watt solar tracking system. Users put their body weight in play with a real-time energy harvesting feedback loop that senses how you orient the soft wood rocker to the sun.  Any USB device can be charged using a solar powered SOFT Rocker charging station.

Solar Chargers

Are you tired of hearing the cries of your STEMists when they can’t use their tablet or portable gaming system because it is charging? Solar chargers give you portability and flexibility by providing you charging on the run.  There are many solar charger products available.  Check out Amazon’s listing for many useful solar powered gadgets. We also think these two products are groovy:

The Electree: The Electree, by French designer Vivian Muller is shaped like a bonsai tree, and contains 27 leaves or solar panels that can charge a 13,500mAh battery. Rotatable branches allow users to customize the look of the Electree, just like pruning a real bonsai!

Solar-Powered Gadget Charging Beach Bag: Whether you are at a picnic in the park or building sand castles at the beach, this solar-powered beach bag is the ideal solution for charging your gadgets.  This unique beach bag generates 6.3 watts of power with its flexible solar panel and will keep your cell phone, MP3 player, digital camera, or any other small electronic device charged and ready to use.

Young STEMists are learning from unique solar powered toys and gadgets used in everyday living.  These groovy solar powered gadgets will inspire imagination and may encourage how they work out the experiments and engineering design challenge in the solar-themed Groovy Lab in a Box.  Order your solar-themed box today!

Groovy Solar Energy Structures

STEMists are learning at an early age that going green is groovy.  Whether it’s the type of family car they use, where their food is grown, or how their house is built, STEMists are being groomed to upgrade to an eco-friendly world.  Solar power is no different! Even though architects have been using passive solar energy for centuries, solar panels are the newest, environmentally friendly, high solar energy designs hitting the architecture scene.

Here are some groovy solar panel architectural structures that are sure to light up your STEMists’ minds.

#1. Solar Flowers at the Parachute Rest Area on I-70 in Parachute, Colorado

The rest area near Parachute, Colorado, USA may be in the middle of nowhere, but it has a hidden solar treasure. The rest stop has three photovoltaic flowers, each with custom frames that support its solar panels. The solar panels produce energy that is then used by the rest area. It’s a welcome site in a desolated part of I-70!

Groovy Solar Energy Structures

Photo courtesy of Brian Guest

#2. Walt Disney World Epcot Center’s Universe of Energy

Walt Disney World Epcot Center’s Universe of EnergyLocated in Florida, this attraction ride opened in 1982 and boasts more than two acres of solar paneled roofing that powers the majority of the attraction.  The panels produce enough energy to power 15 homes.  Epcot Center is a theme park where families can experience firsthand science, technology, engineering, and math concepts through the exhibits themselves and the genius of Disney imagineers!

#3. Solar City Building

The largest solar-powered building in the world is located in Dezhou, Shangdong Province in northwest China.
Solar City Building  located in Dezhou, Shangdong Province in northwest ChinaInspired by a sundial, the structure spans 75,000 square meters and houses a hotel, research facilities, and exhibition, meeting and training facilities.  The structure was originally built to host the 4th World Solar City Congress meeting.

#4. Blackfriars Railway Bridge

January 2014 marked the opening of the Blackfriars Railway Bridge in London— the largest solar bridge in the world! Blackfriars Bridge across the River Thames secures half its power from 4,400 roof-mounted solar panels and produces about 900,000 kWh of electricity.

Blackfriars Railway Bridge in London— the largest solar bridge in the world!

#5. Solar Ark

The Solar Ark, located in Gifu, Japan, uses over 5,000 solar panels to collect over 630 kW.  Built by Sanyo, the Ark is a solar-collecting structure built with substandard recalled monocrystalline cells. Why did Sanyo use the recalled cells?

The Solar Ark, located in Gifu, Japan

According to their web site, they wanted to show their “sincere regret that this problem has occurred and to express our willingness and determination to both remember what happened and how important it is to maintain quality.” The Solar Ark provides visitors with a solar museum and multi-media exhibits, a solar lab and other rooms for environmental events.

#6. The Monte Rosa Alpine Hut

Located in the Swiss Alps, the Monte Rosa Alpine Hut is a sustainable ultra-modern building.  The high-tech hut soaks up the sun’s rays to produce an astounding 90 percent energy self-sufficient system!

The Monte Rosa Alpine Hut located in the Swiss Alps,

Young STEMists are learning from the building of architectural structures used for everyday living.

These structures will certainly spark imagination and perhaps influence how they work out the experiments and engineering design challenge in the solar-themed Groovy Lab in a Box.  Order your solar-themed box today!

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