Alabama students build a solar powered tool to help students in Ukraine

Chickasaw Middle School Student
Chickasaw Middle School builds solar powered suitacase for Ukraine

A group of students from Chickasaw, Alabama are changing the world.

It has been over a year since Russia invaded Ukraine and students at Chickasaw Middle School are using their brainpower to pitch in and help. A team of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders have been working together since the beginning of the year to build solar powered suitcases to help students in Ukraine. These suitcases will serve as charging devices to Ukrainian students and educators.

We spoke with Chickasaw Middle School Career and Technology teacher, Brian Copes, to get his insight on the project.

“We tell kids that they can change the world, but we never teach them how to change the world. As a tech teacher, I educate my students how to use subjects such as math, science, and English to construct a project-based learning module that helps change the world.” – Brian Copes, Chickasaw Schools Career and Technology Educator

What is a solar powered suitcase?

A solar suitcase is a plastic suitcase built by a 3D printer that is connected to a solar panel designed to sit on the roof of the school. The idea is that these suitcases will serve as a power source to Ukrainian students so they can charge their devices such as phones and laptops so they are able to complete their assignments.

Education in Ukraine

Copes tells us that he has a friend who teaches in Ukraine and that their school systems are the next casualty of this war. According to Copes, Ukrainian schools only get about an hour, sometimes two, of electricity a day. The students are all scattered. Some are in hiding, many have fled their communities and the country, and a number have been recruited to the military. Copes and his middle school students wanted to help give Ukrainian students and educators the power to continue their education.

A team effort

Solar Power Suitcase
Chickasaw Middle School students

Every student on the solar suitcase building team at Chickasaw Middle School played a pivotal role in this project.

  • 8th graders worked on 3D printing the suitcases while others calculated how much power the battery would require.
  • 7th graders helped plot these numbers on a graph
  • 6th graders collected data from the solar power battery to the computer.

Creating something valuable with a 3D printer is nothing new for Copes and his team of students. Along with the solar suitcase project, his classes used 3D printing to create prosthetic legs in which they deliver to amputees in Latin America.

“There are several things we do here at Chickasaw. My students have formed an after school club called ‘life changing manufacturers,’ where they use their skills taught in our classes to built and create projects that help change the world” – Brian Copes, Career and Technology Educator at Chickasaw Middle School

A call to action

The school has plans to ship the solar suitcase to Ukraine soon. More importantly, Copes and his students want to enlist as many schools in Alabama and across the country to join them in building solar suitcases for Ukraine. They are on a mission to create a movement and change the world.

Students anywhere can do this solar suitcase project in their own school. Learn more by visiting sky

Julia-Rae Hanson
Julia-Rae Hanson
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