Bow Boys School

The experiences and ideas of older people are rarely voiced in the context of renewable energy technologies, partly because of the stereotyped view that innovation is the remit of younger generations, partly because older people have little access to public space within which to express their desires and share their knowledge. Similarly, young people and teenagers are often excluded from playing an active role in the promotion and development of renewable energies at a local level. 

Although Design and Technology is a compulsory course in secondary education, young people are seldom able to experience the connections between renewable energies and their everyday lives. This was particularly true for pupils at Bow Boys’ School, who live in a densely populated urban environment in one of the poorest boroughs of London. Crucially, bringing this project into their neighbourhood was a form of operating small-scale changes. ActiveEnergy put Bow on the map of renewable energies by demonstrating to the local community, and to London at large, how to set an example and become a model for the rest of the city.

Workshops at Bow Boys’ School

In 2010 Fiona Fieber, Head of Learning and Participation at SPACE commissioned and managed an intergenerational extension to the project at Bow Boys’ School. Engineer Toby Borland worked with Loraine Leeson and Design and Technology teacher Richard Alvarez to deliver sustainable energy workshops to year 10 pupils. Sessions were held at the school over three months to introduce the students to the concepts of renewable energy and turbine technology. Loraine and Toby facilitated the Design and Technology classes with the help of teacher Richard Alvarez, and the boys were mentored and supported by Professor Dodds and the Geezers. The pupils were divided into small groups for the production of wind turbine designs, both through empirical experiments with paper and laser-cut models and the use of CAD software. At the end of the sessions they built a temporary portable wind tunnel to test their prototypes. 

Wind turbine installation and launch at Appian Court

Toby Borland constructed the final self-powered LED lighting wind turbine and installed it on the roof at Appian Court. The turbine powered an LED display which, when the blades were spinning, spelt out the words ‘geezer power’. The Geezer Power installation was officially launched in May 2010. The Geezers and Bow Boys made a presentation to an invited audience of funders, local authority officers, Gateway Housing staff, local residents and Appian Court users, artists, practitioners and engineers. The event was covered by the local newspaper, East London Advertiser.

Workshops at MAGICbox, University of East London

The second phase of the project was concerned with the development of the designs for a tidal power turbine. The Geezers took part in sessions at the SMARTlab MAGICbox laboratory, where they discussed and tested their ideas for a tidal power turbine. Supported by Toby Borland and Professor Dodds , they selected designs and Toby produced three-dimensional models with the laser-cutting machine. During the last session at the University of East London, the Geezers carried out a preliminary test of these small-scale prototypes using a water tank to simulate the water flow of the River Thames. At the end of this session, the whole group travelled to Westminster to meet Nithin Rai who owns a barge moored on the River Thames and is interested in renewable energy provided by water technologies. The barge was chosen as the future location for installation of the tidal turbine.

More info: Download the project report from the cSPACE web site