Planning Solar Energy Education for Refugees


Figure 1.  The five elements of the K-12 online high school level course:  photosystem II[i], sun[ii], earth[iii], leaves[iv], artificial photosynthesis[v].  Each graphic will be image mapped in the website.

We need to build online education skills in global refugee classrooms and greater communities.  Who wants to help with the work? The goal of the course will be to teach K-12 and GED adult students about the objects above and their interactions in space and time.  The mission of the program will be to design a web interface for a course that is being evolved currently at the IRC.  The game Foldit! will be taught along with the basics of how photosystem II and artificial photosynthesis catalysts operate at ambient temperature and pressure on earth to transform solar energy and water into chemical energy and oxygen.  The basics of figure 1 will be explained in detail with simplicity.  Students will design catalysts for water oxidation using Foldit!  The best transformations that students derive will be submitted to Dr. Theodor Agapie of California Institute of Technology for synthesis in aqueous hydrous glove chambers.  The goal of this project is to find the best answer to creating a hybrid biosynthetic water oxidation catalyst.  The data will be collected using LearnDash.  Before coding the website, however, we will build a robust set of worksheets that employ Noam Chomsky’s universal grammar concept to develop a simple algorithm for teaching all the English associated with the science section of the GED.  Once the science section formative assessments are complete we will construct similar analytics for the figure for mathematics, social studies, and writing.  The results will be automatically scored with OpenEdx eventually.  I hope this project creates a good solar cell, an artificial leaf[vi].

After some thought, I think it makes sense to focus on developing two modules.  The first is the use of the public library’s GED collection through Learning Express that my colleague showed me to generate content for the website that I am building with Moodle.  The second is to work with Foldit! to create an interactive game module that teaches students how to have fun with a science problem that is simple but complex, protein folding.  To this end, I think it makes sense to install Foldit! on all the computer laboratory computers to set up a network for learning.  I can setup a group with the Foldit! software to hold all the scores and for the clients to communicate about the results.  I think that second module will be hard, but worth it.  It will be a proof of principle that inquiry based learning can work in GED online education with refugees.  The work with the first module will be the focus for a while, but the two modules will be pursued in parallel.

What do you think about that idea?


Recently in conversations, I have been talking about what I have been calling the science, technology, engineering, mathematics, arts, english as a second language, massive open online course (STEaM-ESOL MOOC) without revealing too much about the website platform that I am developing.  A friend emailed me about the software Moodle yesterday and coincidentally I had used the software to build a website the day before.  Moodle is what is called a learning management system (LMS).  It is used ot create online courses and is open source and easy for anyone to use.  My goal is to develop a science course around the Foldit! software to help teach students in the after school program about the cool world of protein folding.  Already, I have found some ideal candidates.  I would like to expand the appeal of Foldit! to other students so I am making video tutorials about the software that relate what is done in the game to important problems in human health like HIV.
Two video developers have contacted me to work with them to develop science videos.  I have yet to respond to either of them, but I can see the potential of well recorded videos being useful for the Moodle website.  I will respond to them soon.  What do you think of the site?
The web address of the site is:
What are your thoughts?  Can you join the social network, the course, and the forum?

[i] Umena Y, Kawakami K, Shen JR, Kamiya N.  Nature. 2011 May 5;473(7345):55-60.

[ii] Image from the Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project.

[iii] Image of earth from Apollo 17.

[iv] Image of a leaf.

[v] Tsui EY, Kanady JS, Agapie T.  Inorg. Chem. 2013 Dec 16;52(24):13833-48.

[vi] Nocera DG.  Acc. Chem. Res. 2012 May 15;45(5):767-76.

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About kayaerbil

I am a Berkeley educated chemistry Ph.D. who is moving into the area of working on developing appropriate technology for communities that are subjected to socio-economic oppression. The goal is to use simple and effective designs to empower people to live better lives. Currently, I am working with Native Americans on Pine Ridge, the Lakota reservation in South Dakota. I am working with a Native owned and run solar energy company. We are currently working on building a compressed earth block (CEB) house that showcases many of the technologies that the company has developed. The CEB house is made of locally derived resources, earth from the reservation. The blocks are naturally thermally insulating, keeping the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Eventually, a solar air heater and photovoltaic panels will be installed into the house to power the home and keep it warm, while preserving the house off the grid. A side project while in Pine Ridge is a solar computer. I hope to learn about blockchain encryption software for building microgrids. In addition, it is an immediate interest of mine to involve local youth in technology education.
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