Key Stage 2, 3 and 4+ Free Activity

Lesson Plan: Design a handheld device for generating electricity

In some countries such as Malawi and Zambia, people who live in rural areas don’t have access to electricity. Their homes are lit by homemade kerosene (also known as paraffin) lamps that are often made from things like old food tins.

These home-made lamps can be quite costly for families who are living on a small income but most importantly, the lamps can be very dangerous. The burning kerosene can put out toxic fumes and the lamps can be accidently knocked over, causing fires that burn extremely quickly, killing entire families.

Designer Henry James and his company InventID knew that they had to help come up with a solution to this problem. A solar light seemed to be the answer but it had to be cheap, hardworking and functional.

Watch Henry talk about the design story behind the solar light that saves lives.

Things to do

The SM100 solar light aims to fix the problem of not being connected to electricity, but do you think that you could live without electricity?

Imagine that your day had to be ‘off the grid’. All your tasks have to be done without mains electricity. Write down a list of the things that you do in one day and design a system of doing these tasks off the grid.

Can you design a handheld device for generating electricity to power small tasks such as charging a phone or powering a small light? Your design can’t use solar power but has to use a form of renewable energy to power it. Try to be inventive with your design and try to make it inclusive; not everyone can use your device in the same way.

Share your illustration with the Design Museum on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #DesignFromHome.

To read

The Little Sun

The SM100 is one of many affordable solar lights available as the technology becomes cheaper and cheaper to manufacture. The ‘Little Sun’ solar light also aims to bring electric light to remote areas.

Young Design Museum

Young Design Museum

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