Friday, 23 November 2012

I''m moving my house to Equador

Year 6 students have been designing and building scale models of houses as part of their inquiry into housing and poverty. After producing a plan for their houses, they started to build them.

Much interesting maths ensued with the application of the scale to the materials.

This student decided to build a house with curved walls
- lots of fun working out how to do it with straight lines

As the houses neared completion, thoughts turned to power supply.

One enterprising group decided to use wind power and constructed their own scale model of a commercial wind turbine, based on the Capital Wind Farm across the border near Lake George which are 124m from the base to the tip of the top blade.

That's the house down there - and that's how big the wind turbine is!

Other groups considered solar power and constructed mini panels for the roofs of their houses.

"Hmm," said one boy, "The panels need to be angled towards the sun to achieve maximum efficiency in energy production."

"What angle would that be?"

"Well, the angle of the sun at its highest point from the horizon I suppose."

"But doesn't that change with the seasons?"

"So can we make the panels adjust and rotate to face the sun automatically?"

"Hang on a minute. If we face the panels towards the sun we can only fit three onto the roof. We can fit four onto the roof if they are square to the edge of the roof."

"But they will produce less energy because they don't face the sun."

"Yeah but we'll have an extra panel so that's 33% more."

This one had plenty of solar cells - but lost some room by placing them on an angle

Enter a third student.

"Are you using solar panels?" asks the first student.

"Yes but I've built a house with a flat roof. How am I going to angle them?"

"A flat roof would be perfect if the sun was straight above it all the time."

Hmm, the flat roof creates it's own problems

"Where would that be?"

"You know - somewhere where the latitude is 0 degrees."

"What? Like the equator?"

"Yeah."

Grabs an atlas and flicks through to a world map.

"I think I'm going to move my house to Ecuador."