From 8th – 12th November a group of Year 7-10 students took part in the Erasmus programme called Humans First. The aim of the programme was to look at sustainability and in particular, renewable energy, whilst working with students in Spain, Italy and Germany.

Pip, Emma and Milo from our Earth Summit team, proudly presented work that the team have completed on various projects over the last year, our eco successes and awards, as well as plans moving forward, not only to raise awareness and educate others about their environmental impact but also to take action.

The week also involved a number of online sessions, virtual talks with an atmospheric scientist and one about writing an impactful and persuasive speech on climate change. There was plenty of time for experiments and presentations. Students split into three groups, each researching an experimenting on a different type of renewable energy – wind, solar and thermal energy. They collected and processed the data and drew conclusions about which energy source was more efficient. Our students worked incredibly hard throughout the week and have written about their experiences below.

The Wind Turbine group share their findings:

In our group, we measured different wind speeds around our school; this gave us varied results but this was a prediction we had made earlier as we knew that different areas have open land and some areas were more built up, meaning that the wind would either flow freely making the turbine turn faster, or the buildings would block the flow of the wind.

In our experiments we used a voltmeter to measure the voltage of the different wind speeds. This fluctuated from 0.1 depending on the area of which the turbine was placed. The voltmeter has readings of 0-15 volts and this was used to measure the amount of energy harvested from purely wind.

We have also collectively been trying to find ways to make our school more energy efficient using wind turbines; even on a smaller scale a build-up of these turbines can produce high voltage which can be used to power our school.

Also, during our experiments we found that at 10:00am, we had our highest reading of 3 volts. If this was done on a wider scale and we had more turbines harvesting this unused energy, we would be saving money to use elsewhere or further increase this harvesting. With this simple improvement our school would be even more environmentally friendly and this would put us further towards our target of the UK being Net Zero by 2050. If this was done across all schools then we would achieve this target nationally. If more international schools took small actions to help reduce carbon emissions, the global impact would be incredible!

Mia from the Solar Team shares her findings:

In the Solar Team, we had a kit that contained a solar panel that was 12cm by 6cm long, a voltmeter, two cables, a propeller, a buzzer and a red light bulb. We were mainly focused on using the buzzer and propeller to measure the rotations per minute and the decibels produced.

For our experiments, we placed the solar panel in our school field at different times during the day. We then angled the solar panel in a certain way and plugged in the voltmeter which told us how many volts we were using. Our team also used a decibel meter to measure the sound from the buzzer. To measure the rotations per minute for the propeller, we used a slow-motion recording to count how many times it spun.

Our findings told us that the experiments from 09:20-09:30 produced slightly better results than the ones at 14:00. We also discovered that the voltage, RPM (rotations per minute), watts and decibels were the highest at a 45-60° elevation. We reached a voltage of 2.4, 20 decibels, 0.96 watts and 960 RPM.

In conclusion, solar panels are a very effective way of producing electricity, and are the best option out of the other two experiments: Water Heating and Wind Turbines. This surprised us as England is often very cloudy but it still gave us great results. If schools were able to have solar panels installed, it would be extremely beneficial for the environment and the staff.

Kyra, shares her experiences of the week:

I really enjoyed being a part of ERASMUS 2021 as it was such an eye – opening experience. At the beginning of the week, we virtually met the other German, Italian and Spanish schools. We discussed the different things we currently do that make our schools more environmentally friendly and where we see our schools (environmentally) in 10 years.

During the afternoon, we started our investigations into whether Solar, Wind or Hydro-Energy is the best source of renewable energy for Norfolk. As I was part of the Solar Team, I helped to measure the voltage of the small Solar Panel we had in our Photovoltaic kit. Our results for that day and Tuesday, produced approximately 2.4 volts each day as it was sunny.

Over Wednesday and Thursday, the weather was damp and cloudy and so our experiments showed a decrease in voltage by about 0.5 volts. We then put together a presentation that compared our findings and research between the different groups of renewable energy.  What we found was completely different to our prediction that wind energy would be the most effective renewable energy as it was actually solar energy.

We shared our presentation with the other schools and some of the information they had found out from their investigations contradicted some of my initial thoughts about their country’s use of renewable energy. In the afternoon, Esme, Annabelle, Ella and I went on a litter pick and managed to clear most of the Year 7 and Year 8 areas as we were eager to make our own difference even with the smallest changes.

Lastly, on Friday we had a workshop called ‘Dare To Speak Up’ which gave us really great tips on how to use your voice to make a difference. My favourite thing was that we were taught how to write a speech about what environmental problems we are most passionate about and wish to change. I was inspired to raise the issue of fast fashion pollution and hope to be able to use it in the future. It was a fantastic week!