Thursday, February 11, 2010

Spreading the word about Solar Science

This past Friday, Quiana Moore ('09) participated in CIMBY's Environmental Leadership Workshop.  CIMBY (Calumet Is My Back Yard) is a result of community advocacy in the late 1990's that promoted the use of extracurricular programming to increase awareness of and responsibility for the fragile beauty of the Calumet area.  Today, CIMBY combines leadership training, ecology, and stewardship into environmental restoration projects that City of Chicago high school students can participate in as part of their 40-hour service learning requirement.

Quiana spent the morning with three groups of 15 students each and discussed with them her research on designing dye sensitized solar cells (DSSCs).  Funded by the Department of Defense, Army Research Lab, Quiana's research is part of a bigger solar cell collaborative between Chicago State and American Science and Technology to develop flexible solar cells for portable power generation.  When Quiana told the students that the work she is doing may one day allow for solar-cell fabrics to be woven in to clothing and apparel, the students became excited about being able to charge their cell phones while walking down the street.

After learning a bit about the components of the DSSC, the students broke up in to smaller groups to discuss how the devices are made now, and what advances need to be made to reach our goal of flexible solar cells.  They quickly learned that a lot of improvements need to be made, and only through collaboration between multiple research groups can these advancements be achieved in a reasonable amount of time.

Kudos to Quiana for showing off Cougar Science and at the same time getting local high school students interested in their education!