Boy power sets a shining example

17th July 1998 at 01:00
FORGET girl power. At Cardinal Hinsley high school, in Willesden, London, boy power rules. They are mad keen on generating energy, even to the extent of pedalling on bicycles to boil a kettle.

"When one boy gets tired we just replace him," said science teacher George Nagle with the ruthlessness of a Dickensian mill owner.

"We could solve the energy and employment problems in one go."

So it was appropriate for the 750-strong boys' school to be among the first 16 to receive a solar panel, plus computer and software, courtesy of Scolar.

This programme, part-funded by the Government, aims to generate interest among pupils and the community in photovoltaics - the technology that converts light into electrical energy. Traditional solar panels use the Sun's heat to warm water.

By the end of the decade 100 schools and colleges should be able to demonstrate this eco-friendly technology. The nationwide network will be linked via the Internet which holds the software to help children to understand photovoltaics.

Cardinal Hinsley school started a renewable energy club two years ago and the clubhouse entrance will be covered by a canopy to house the solar panel.

Elsewhere the panels could be incorporated into window louvres or wall cladding. The controls, set at child's eye level, will allow pupils to see how much power is being generated.

Mr Nagle reckons that the panel will produce 600 watts to feed into the school's grid - enough to run six lightbulbs or six personal computers. But more importantly it demonstrates the principle of renewable energy.

It will add to the power generated by the school's wind energy project which has six windmills, two of them home-made. Data will be collated every 12 hours and downloaded on to the Internet.

The Scolar programme provided Pounds 11,500 towards the cost. The school raised Pounds 4,500 and Pounds 2,000 was donated by its local authority, Brent.

Scolar was developed in response to the Foresight Challenge set by the Government to develop new technologies for the next millennium.

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