University of California, Riverside

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Solar Science Projects Boosted by BOA Program


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Four Solar Projects Benefit from Lab Mentoring Program

Solar science fair projects from four Riverside high school students who worked at UCR labs will move on to compete in the Inland Area Science and Engineering Fair in April, having scored gold or silver medals in the Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) competition held at UC Riverside on February 17.shah project

Thanks to a grant by Bank of America, faculty and researchers affiliated with the College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) mentored through the Center’s Global Climate Change and Energy Workshops. The students, selected by their teachers, were able to experience firsthand the role of science and engineering in dealing with some of our most problematic environmental issues.

“Engineers will play a pivotal role in our ability to respond to these challenges and it is important to introduce bright students to their potential roles for environmental progress,” said CE-CERT Director Matt Barth, who mentored three winning entries himself in various solar energy technologies.

In addition to solar projects, CE-CERT also hosted high school science projects in biofuels, fuel cells, and planetary atmospheric modeling.

The exposure to the world of the environmental engineer is important, according to Dale Moore, Instructional Specialist for the RUSD. “At that age students interested in science are thinking about medicine, dentistry or nursing. They don’t have a good concept of engineering. An experience like this gives them new ideas about all the areas open to them,” Moore said.

tim linnThe Gold Medal team of Neerha and Nehaly Shah from King High School compared the performance of a photovoltaic solar cell when paired with a mirror or a concentrating Fresnel lens. The lens improved the voltage output by nearly 10 times and indicated to them that solar power is practical even in cloudier regions of the world.

“There are a lot of preconceived notions in the public that are no longer true,” Neerha said. “We want to stay on this Earth as long as we can and at this rate the climate is going to make that difficult,” sister Nehaly added.

Watching school budgets dwindle, they suggested that all schools install panels on their roofs, both to save money and to teach communities that the era of solar power is now. “It would be a great statement for education,” Nehaly said.

North High’s Tim (Chung-Kuang) Linn also scored gold for his study of dust and time of day as limiting factors on solar collection.

In addition to a Silver Medal, Dante Kari received a special award from the Bourns College of Engineering’s Electrical Engineering Department. His project investigated the use of reflectors increasing the yield of solar power as much as 50 percent.dante kari

Kari, from North High School, demonstrated who low cost reflectors can make older solar cells more efficient longer and how they can make solar energy economical even on cloudy days.

North High School Science Teacher Lillian McCandless said she wants more students to participate in the program. “I found the contact with the scientists to be very helpful,” she said. “I found it invaluable for the students to experience research at the college level.”

PHOTOS:

Top: GOLD - Neerha and Nehaly Shah from King High School.

Center: GOLD - Tim Linn from North High School.

Bottom: SILVER - Dante Kari from from North High: also was awarded the Special UCR Electrical Engineering Department Award.

 

North High

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Southern California Research Initiative for Solar Energy
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