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Cedar Wood Solar Chimes

2015 Gold Medal Winner of PTAs Taking Significant Action Award

Have you heard the chimes in the school’s courtyard? The Cedar Wood Solar Chimes were created by our own Cedar Wood teacher, Mark Dersom, who designed and constructed them in 2014 as a fun and interactive way to demonstrate an important elementary STEM concept: the transfer of energy. 

Using a solar panel to capture energy from the sun, solar energy is then converted to electrical energy which then powers the rotation of the six wooden wheels each holding a combination of plastic pegs.  As the wheels turn, the pegs hit keys which then strike the metal chimes of varying lengths, each creating a different sound. This process demonstrates the transfer of solar energy to electrical energy to mechanical energy and then finally to sound energy. The solar chimes are made up of 5 notes forming a pentatonic scale: C, D, E, G, A, with an additional high C.

Funded by a PTA auction promoting STEM education, the project from start to finish took approximately 9 months for the design to be completed, the materials purchased, the Chimes constructed and then the final 12’ structure installed at the school. However, the build-time of the Chimes alone took about a month and a half. Now a permanent fixture in the Cedar Wood courtyard, students are encouraged to visit the chimes to hear the latest melody, as well as share their knowledge of the transfer of energy to their parents and other visiting guests.

Next time you are at Cedar Wood and the sun is out, stop by the courtyard and press the button to activate the solar panels to power up the chimes, and make sure to ask a Cedar Wood student to explain the concept of the transfer of energy as it is demonstrated.