Project Updates

Check this page for updates on our project!

April 17, 2015
     Last Tuesday, Charger Potential visited Steve Gore and his class of welding students at Central Piedmont Community College. While there, we took part in all aspects of fabricating our aluminum frames. This included marking the dimensions, cutting the pieces, using steel wool to prepare the aluminum for welding, touring the facility, and watching the welding with special masks.
     The students at CPCC welcomed us and taught us the reasoning behind each step. Also, they shared their plans to use heir skills after graduating, which gave us an idea of the wide range applications for welding. We would like to send a huge thank you to the administrators, teachers, and students at CPCC for helping us with our project. Fabricating the frames is a huge step in this project! 

January 20, 2015
     Today we met with Mr. Steve Gore, the Welding Technology Program Chair at Central Piedmont Community College. Mr. Gore shared with us about his current students and alumni, as well as the many community service projects they have previously embraced. We are beyond grateful for his support and interest in our project. Mr. Gore delivered a pleasant surprise, stating that his class can complete welding all of our dual systems in one day! Charger Potential has organized a trip to CPCC in the beginning of April to be a part of the fabrication of our ten aluminum frames.
Victoria, Alexandra, Blaire, Mr. Gore, Grace, and Taylor

January 15, 2015
     We are excited to announce our partnership with the Central Piedmont Community College, as we work with their Welding Technologies department to fabricate the aluminum frames of our dual systems. On Wednesday, group members met with Service Learning Director and Coordinator Dena Shonts and Jenn Marts. In this initial meeting, we displayed our alpha prototype, explained our project history, and shared information about our end goal and beneficiary. We are also glad to have learned about CPCC's continued work in the community and abroad, which even coincidentally included a trip to Tanzania last month. 
     Next week, we will meet with Steve Gore, the Program Chair of Welding Technologies at this Charlotte school. Throughout this phase in the project, he will be our main contact, and we look forward to working with him and his students. We hope to organize a trip to CPCC to watch the welding in action and meet the students who will generously help us with our G.R.ID. Systems.
Rose and Taylor met with representatives from CPCC
October 2014
     While at EurekaFest, we met many inspiring adults who encouraged us to try building our own generators. Because the generators are the most expensive, and arguably most important, element of our device, we decided to attempt this endeavor in an effort to make the G.R.ID. System more cost effective. Team members Blaire and Alexandra took on the task of building a basic cardboard generator with the intent of learning how the generator works. Mr. Domes, a retired teacher we met at EurekaFest, kindly helped us in this process through online communication. However, our homemade generator was met with limited success. While this route may have been successful if we had many months and more resources to experiment with different techniques and materials, it was not feasible for our goals. We determined that the process of building our own generators would take too long for our time frame and have decided to purchase the remaining generators needed for our classroom set of dual systems.

August 2014
     After a relaxing summer and lots of fun at EurekaFest, our InvenTeam has met to regroup for the new school year. All ten girls and our mentor are continuing with the G.R.ID. System in an effort to complete a classroom set to ship to Kisimiri Secondary School in Tanzania. We have written a detailed plan and budget for the next three years, until the spring of 2017 when the youngest members of our group will graduate from high school. Our school, Providence Day, has graciously agreed to financially support our group throughout the remainder of the project.
     The following is a brief summary of our outline for the next few years:
2014-2015: Fabricate a full classroom set of desks (10 dual systems), and begin testing in classrooms at PDS.
2015-2016: Ship the set to Kisimiri Secondary School, continue Skype calls to receive feedback and assist with any issues.
2016-2017: Continue Skype calls, send any replacement parts needed to Kisimiri, possibly create new, modified G.R.ID. Systems based on feedback from Tanzanian students and teachers.

June 18, 2014: We are finally ready for EurekaFest! We will be traveling to Boston tomorrow morning, and everyone on the team is very excited.

Look below to see the schedule for EurekaFest (>

Below are pictures of our device just before we shipped it to Boston. We painted it black and applied friction strips to prevent students' feet from slipping on the metal treadles.

The dual system after painting
(the second wheel was not yet replaced after painting the device)

One side of the completed dual system

June 10, 2014: We have spent a lot of time recently doing last minute preparations for EurekaFest, the event where we will showcase our project at MIT. There are nine days left until we leave for Boston on June 19th, and we are working hard to finish everything.

We now have three dual systems hooked together in a grid system. The G.R.ID. consists of the three dual systems, diodes, fuses, a voltage booster, an ammeter, a voltmeter, an inverter and a lightbulb.

The G.R.I D. System connected together

What do all of these things do?
diode: prevents charge from going backwards into the generator
fuses: protect the wires and other devices
voltage booster: increases voltage to about 14.5 Volts
ammeter: measures the electric current
voltmeter: measures the voltage
      *voltage and current are needed to determine what can be powered by the G.R.I D. System
inverter: converts the electric current from DC (direct current) to AC (alternating current)
      *DC devices are typically things that use batteries. AC devices are objects that plug into a wall socket.

We have been pedaling to power a lightbulb, and we are working to determine exactly how much energy the system creates.

A diagram of the objects in the G.R.I D. System

Connecting the G.R.I D. System

We spray-painted the final prototype, built a wooden box for it, and we are preparing to ship it to Boston on Thursday. Meanwhile, our team has been working on power points and presentations for EurekaFest and an instruction manual for the G.R.I D. System that will travel with it to Tanzania in the future.

May 23, 2014: Now that much of our device is complete, our mechanical team is working on soundproofing. We ordered green pyramid foam to absorb sound, and we are creating a plexiglass box to surround to device. The foam will line the inside of the box, and we hope that it will be a significant improvement in noise reduction.

Here, we are creating a cardboard box around the device as a prototype
before we build the plexiglass box that will hold our soundproofing.

The material we will be using for soundproofing is green pyramid foam,
which will help to absorb some of the sound coming from our device.

May, 2014: We have now welded all of the pedals into single pedals, and we've created a new dual system prototype that is smaller, and therefore lighter and easier to transport. We also added metal weights to the flywheels to increase the voltage output.

Comparing our two dual systems
These are the metal weights that we are attaching to each of the flywheels


Our newest team photo


April 6, 2014: After spending a long time testing and improving upon the two-pedal device, we determined that pedaling with two pedals while listening and taking notes required too much effort and coordination. We realized that one pedal would be much easier, so we welded the two pedals together into a single pedal. This resolved some mechanical issues and made the motion a lot smoother, therefore  reducing distraction. In the next few weeks, we will be instituting this one-pedal design in the dual system.

Abbie and Rose test the new one-pedal system while taking notes

April 1, 2014: We have been working on constructing the duel system over the past few weeks, and it is finally complete! This is the duel system under construction in our Providence Day School's workshop:

Working on the duel system in the workshop

Working on the new duel system in the lab

March 25, 2014: We were having some problems with the flimsy wooden treadles that were on the last prototype, so we decided to update the device with new medal treadles. We also attached a ball-and-socket piece to connect the pedals and allow for smoother motion.

February, 2014: The Mid-Grant Technical Review on Thursday, February 20, was a success! We presented our project during the Middle and Upper School lunch periods, and it was a great opportunity to showcase our work over the last few months. Many Lower School classes visited our presentation, and we were able to teach them about our project and about the importance of improving upon past prototypes. We also hosted a number of older students, as well as parents and faculty members. 

 The first part of our MGTR consisted of a short presentation in the theater. We showed a Prezi which included videos, pictures, and information about our progress so far. Each of our team members memorized a speaking part for the presentation. Afterwords, we led the audience into the foyer outside of the theater. There, we had a number of stations set up with posters and hands-on activities that discussed our project, past prototypes, and our future plans. We also had a prototype for visitors to test, and we had a station with online feedback forms on iPads.

Presenting our project at the Mid-Grant Technical Review

February 7, 2014: Today we visited NC State University to meet with a variety of mechanical and electrical engineers. Our back-to-back meetings were extremely helpful, and it was interesting to meet engineers who have jobs that relate to our project. We learned a lot and came up with a number of new ideas for the G.R.i D. System.

Meetings at NC State

February 6, 2014: Today we visited Omega Manufacturing and Duke Energy. Omega Manufacturing is a company that manufactures specialty parts. We learned that even thousands of an inch could make a difference in their products, so they have special tools to ensure that each object is crafted perfectly. At Duke Energy, we learned how much humans and the weather have an impact on energy consumption. The people working there can see when the majority of the city wakes up, goes to work or school, returns home, and goes to sleep based on the usage of power throughout the day. It was really interesting to see how these companies related to our project.
Visiting Duke Energy

Touring Omega Manufacturing

January 2014:

The finished version of our steel stand

A representative of NC Senator Burr visited our school to give us a letter from the senator.

January 12, 2014: Recently, we decided that instead of having six separate desks that connect in a grid, we are going to attach the desks together in pairs. The two desks will be side-by-side (similar to a bench), and the two wheels will turn into each other like gears. This will increase the voltage generated and make it easier for the students to pedal. The pairs of desks will be connected into the overall grid that charges the 12 volt battery. 

We are working on creating a steel stand for the flywheel. This will be sturdier, and it will last longer over time.

This is the design for the new stand.
The newly cut pieces of steel are held
together with tape to show what the stand will look like after it is welded.

This is a video summary of our updates through the month of November:

Friday, November 8: Charger Potential had a busy but productive day! We met with Ms. Estabrooks in the afternoon to discuss our project and the Lemelson-MIT program. It was a very worthwhile meeting, and we proposed many new ideas for the G.R.D. System. In the evening, we met with Dr. Bottomley, an engineer from NC State. She was very helpful, and we hope to meet again with her soon.
Meeting with Ms. Estabrooks

Meeting with Dr. Bottomley

Click here to see us on The Katie Show!

Thank you to Katie Couric and The Katie Show for featuring two of our team members, Rose and Kelly, on the show! Watch it on Wednesday, November 6th at 10 am!

Click Here to See a Video of Prototype One Testing
Project Overview (click link if the video is not working)

The flywheel and treadle system are ready to be tested!
Alexandra tries out the treadle system

Treadle and Flywheel Operation (click link if the video does not work)

Taylor learns how to test the voltage output of the generator using a drill and voltmeter

Testing the Generator (click the link if the video is not working)

Alexandra and Grace take desks apart
Abbie and Alexandra hold the belt that will attach the wheel and generator.

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