September 16, 2013

Encore summer for outreach initiative at Camp Miniwanca

Erica Wunderlich Majumder's renewable energy modules engaged youngsters at Camp Miniwanca in Michigan for a second summer this year. Erica, a graduate student in Bob Blankenship's group, was assisted by three other graduate students: Jeremy King and Greg Orf (also of the Blankenship group) and Kent Kovac (a member of PARC research affiliate Dave Kramer's group).

Entitled "Discovering Renewable Energy at Camp," the program seeks to use the outdoors as a resource to demonstrate the four major steps of photosynthesis, as well as to explore other means of producing renewable energy through hands-on activities. Campers participate in four 60- to 90-minute sessions with specific themes, including light harvesting, electricity and energy transfer, fuel production, and energy conversion and consumption. The activities were organized into kits and the graduate students developed a detailed instruction manual, so that the camp can continue to utilize the modules and impact campers in future.

Conceived in the fall of 2011, the program was funded through a $1000 PARC Education & Outreach Mini-Grant award to create and supply the modules and reimburse the PARC students for their travel to and from camp to implement the curriculum. The units were so well-received by the campers that Erica applied for and received a second Mini-Grant to return to Camp Miniwanca this past summer with replenished and revised kits based upon feedback and experience from year one.