Last week Solar 1′s education team and park manager were lucky enough to take a tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Along our walk though the historic shipyard we saw solar panels and vertical wind turbines mounted to nearly every light post. Our first stop was the IceStone factory where they make amazing counter top materials out of recycled glass. The company is committed to sustainability and prides itself on its dedication to a triple bottom line. The tour was really interesting and gave us exposure to a local manufacturer doing its part to reduce environmental impacts. Next we stopped by the Brooklyn Grange Farm in the Navy Yard. They have converted a 65,000 square foot rooftop space into a storm water retaining farmstead complete with a chicken coop and weekly farm stand. In addition to the local produce, eggs and honey the farm provides for nearby residents and restaurants, the farm also diverts an estimated 1,000,000 gallons of stormwater annually helping to prevent combined sewer overflows. Finally we stopped by BLDG 92, a building working towards a LEED Platinum certification. BLDG 92 is a public space that showcases the history and innovation of The Brooklyn Navy Yard – from the Revolutionary War to the revolution in jobs and industry happening in New York City right now.
In addition to the damaged trees, Wednesday’s storm brought hail and torrential rains to Stuyvesant Cove Park. The storm water was enough to cause a combined sewer overflow event or CSO. For those of you who haven’t heard of this, CSO’s are NYC’s answer for extra storm water that can’t be treated fast enough by the sewage treatment plants. Instead of sewage and polluted storm water flooding back up out of our street basins and building drains it overflows polluting our rivers. Stinky!
Baba and Jordan up in a tree!
Wednesday’s storm brought down a branch and split a major limb from the trunk of one of our hackberry trees. This made for a Thursday full of tree care at Stuyvesant Cove Park. While volunteers sawed the downed branch into manageable logs, Gardener Jordan Aponte and Intern Baba Fousseni secured the split limb until our poor hackberry can receive professional help. Good Work Guys!
Today we built a simple do-it-yourself solar USB charger that fits in an Altoid tin. This little guy will charge most mobile devices that charge via USB using 2 rechargeable AA batteries and flexible thin-film solar panels. All the parts we used totaled less than $30 and can be as low as $10 if purchased in bulk, which includes:
- thin-film solar panels
- 2 NiMH AA batteries
- pre-assembled USB charging circuit board
- a diode
- battery holder
- and the Altoids tin.
- soldering iron
- tin snips
- wire cutters
- hot glue
- electrical tape
This little project is a great first step into building your own electronics and should take less than 1-2 hours even for those who know nothing about assembling circuitry or electricity. Here is a great step by step over on Instructables by Joshua Zimmerman, and a link to the kit he makes with all the necessary parts. There are many different designs floating around the web, but this is the most straightforward and cost effective one. So get out there and build yourself some solar, even if you do have an extra $140 laying around for the factory-made version.
Solar One educators Isa and Alex find a rock crab while checking on our oysters!