During the final weeks of Term 1, the Humanities Department allied with an external organisation, Solarbuddy, to provide an authentic learning opportunity aligned to the Year 7 Livability Unit in Geography. Solarbuddy is an Australian ‘not for profit’ organisation that works with developing nations around the World. With the assistance of schools, Solarbuddy provides solar lights to impoverished communities so that students can study at night. Energy Poverty is a large issue around the world affecting over a billion people. In these communities people often use kerosene lamps which are both hazardous to their health and often result in fires destroying people’s homes. Something as simple as a solar light gives people in these communities the opportunity to access studying at night so that they can improve their education and ultimately gain skills that may get them better employment.
As part of a combined STEM and Humanities initiative, the College has incorporated working with Solarbuddy into the curriculum. After obtaining the lights, the students studied the use of solar lighting to improve Livability in these communities, particularly focusing on Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Tanzania. Once the lights were assembled, the Year 7’s wrote messages to students in these communities to share their enthusiasm for solar lighting with them. The unit was completed with a simulation lesson that gave students a small taste of what it is like to live without light whilst trying to study. The lights and messages will be returned to Solarbuddy in the coming weeks so that they can be sent out to these communities. It should be said that some of the interest, effort and work produced around this unit has truly been remarkable and the students should be commended for their efforts and passion to make a difference.