ICM & PCM Final – Power Your Day With Sunlight

solar project in winter show 2018

a.) What is this project:

My aim with this project was to create an educational tool that explains how solar panels work and how sunlight is converted into electricity.

The objectives for “Power Your Day with Sunlight” is to visualize the science of solar cells and to better understand this modern technology. By providing the user with a hands on model, people will be able to experiment with how solar cells correspond with the sun.

b.) Why I made this:

With the threat of global warming, it is obvious to consider alternative energies such as solar. Since the sun is both free and gives off more energy than we would ever need to power everything we use, it makes sense that we are seeing a slow rise in the use solar panels.

At this point we all know what solar panels are, but what do we really know about how solar panels work?

If it is such a great alternative, why aren’t more people using it? This brings up the challenge of energy storage.

c.) How it works: 

This project is composed of a physical interaction in which the angle of the light, representing the sun and time of day, is reflective of the light generated inside the miniature solar house. Meanwhile, the screen below the house displays an interactive animation of a solar cell diagram that updates in real time based on the amount of light that the solar panels receive. Next to the screen are four buttons that will change to different web pages. The first button will display an intro page, the second page will allow show the voltage generated by the light in the form of a moving bar graph, the third one displays the solar cell schematic,  the fourth button displays information regarding battery storage.

On the right side, there is an LED powered button icon. When the light is shining on the solar panel, the battery icon will cyclically flash to show that it is storing the solar energy. When the light is turned off, which will automatically happen after the day has ended, the battery will discharge. At that time, the screen will show a page that discusses the current status and challenges with the development of cost-effective batteries.

d.) Live demo:

Power Your Day with Sunlight – Quarter, Full Interaction from Emily L on Vimeo.

e.) Code can be found here:


* Sorry, not using github properly in this instance, will work to better understand github so as to not create a messy repo.

f.) Credits:

This project was completed with the helpful guidance of many supportive experts. My most sincere gratitude goes to  Professor Tom Igoe, Luisa Pereira, Kasra Sardashti.  I’m especially thankful to have such insightful technical and conceptual feedback from my pcomp professor Tom, icm professor Luisa, and life partner/bff/ troubleshooter extraordinaire: Kasra. These people and this place (itp) make it possible to do these fun dream projects. I’ve learned so much from trying to understand, mold, and execute this solar interactive because I had the access to these people.

Also, thank you to my itp classmates/ friends who provided insightful feedback throughout this process.

Thank goodness for the amazing residents Jasmine, Koji, Yeseul, and Alejandro. What a good support system during pressured times.

g.) Product Shots: 

product shot