It’s called the GREEN Mobile Solar Energy Laboratory and it will take to the Arkansas highways soon to bring hands-on solar energy experiments to schools and public events across the state.
The mobile laboratory is housed in a converted 33-foot Winnebago and uses a conventional gasoline engine to get around. But it is equipped with six 230-watt solar panels that can power the lab’s equipment, computers, television and other features for two hours at a time.
The mobile lab is the latest addition to an outreach program with a goal of exposing Arkansas students to fun and interactive projects in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
“Our objective is to get K-12 students excited about pursuing STEM careers by integrating hands-on solar energy experiments into the Arkansas K-12 science curriculum,” said Vasundara Varadan, director of the GREEN Center at the University of Arkansas. Varadan is a Distinguished Professor of electrical engineering and holds the George and Boyce Billingsley Endowed Chair.
Funding to create the vehicle came from a $162,663 grant from the Arkansas Energy Office, which is part of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.
The lab on wheels will be unveiled at a ribbon cutting at 3:30 p.m. Monday, April 30, outside of the John A. White Engineering Hall. Chancellor G. David Gearhart will help launch the mobile outreach vehicle, and tours of the mobile laboratory and demonstrations of selected experiments will be offered to anyone attending
The GREEN vehicle outreach project is organized by the Arkansas Green Renewable Energy-Efficient Nanoplasmonic Solar Cells Center, which has units on the University of Arkansas campuses at Fayetteville, Little Rock, Pine Bluff and Fort Smith, as well as Philander Smith College in Little Rock.