Mission 1: The Peace Lantern Project


The purpose of the Peace Lanterns was to create a marketable customized novelty which ties together the power of solar energy with South African art and culture.  The lanterns are meant to convey the spirit of peace, harmony, and unity emerging within a formerly divided nation.  Last spring, art students at Pam’s high school had a contest to design a logo for the lanterns.

peace lantern logos

The guidelines encouraged the use of matabele art (a South African art style) with a symbolic interpretation of peace and unity, along with the inclusion of the 11 South African indigenous languages.  The final logo design was chosen by the leaders of Aspire Youth in the spring of 2015 and has already been printed onto a label which will adhere to the jars.


Now that the jars and the logos are set, the next step is to acquire the components necessary to create the photovoltaic/LED array.  This includes a printed circuit board (pcb), a 3 volt solar panel, 2 AAA rechargeable batteries, a battery holder, 2 LEDs, and coated wires for each lantern.  In addition, soldering irons, solder, solder sucker, wire cutters, a drill, electrical tape, and silicon sealant are also required.

inside of jar

watch a youtube video of my students putting a solar lantern together

I intend to use funds acquired from the Fund for Teachers grant along with funds gathered from my local community to bring as much of the above materials as possible when I travel back to South Africa in July.  In addition, I will be implementing the curriculum I developed for the Sunbender Do-it-Yourself Solar LED Jar Light Kits to educate and train Aspire Youth during the launching seminars I will be hosting there.  Mark Gamble of Aspire Youth will also arrange for me to run a series of teacher workshops in the Cape Town area.  In these educator workshops, South African teachers will be introduced to the STEAM concepts needed to understand the inner workings of the Peace Lanterns.  Natalie and I will also work on setting up more international collaboration with South African students through the use of Skype in the Classroom as we further develop concepts in the solar lantern kits.


Anticipated Outcomes and Benefits of the Peace Lantern Project

  • Spreading STEM to international classrooms (with the intent of targeting underserved schools) as we present curriculum to South African teachers addressing how solar panels work, how rechargeable batteries work, how LEDs work, series and parallel circuits, and how calculate charge and discharge times in a do-it-yourself solar lantern kit.
  • ‘Bridging the gap’ in educational opportunities between more advantaged and more disadvantaged schools in South Africa
  • Forges international collaborations between educators and students
  • Provides job and business skills for unemployed and disadvantaged South African Youth
  • Diversion from poverty-driven issues, such as drugs, crime, and gangsterism
  • Emphasis on clean energy, sustainability, and domestic resources while embracing South African art and culture
  • Promoting peace in South Africa in the wake of conflict and issues such as xenophobia
  • Promoting a viable market in novelty and corporate gifting while also creating a souvenir for the tourist trade, which makes up a huge portion of South Africa’s economy

DIY kits in Africa

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