To make the makeshift light bulbs, the students cut out a hole in the roof tile and then placed the empty soda bottle in the hole. The solar light bulbs can provide 55 watts of light, according to the charity’s website.
The bottle is filled with water and bleach, which allows the light to spread throughout the room instead of just through a hole in the ceiling.
“The plastic bends the light and breaks it up as it comes into the room,” said UM sophomore chemistry major Zoe Wright. “Instead of just beams of light hitting small portions of the room, a little bit of light is spread out. It’s a smart way to utilize inexpensive resources in order to get a relatively big result.”
This is an example of the way the Solar Bottle Bulb uses the principles of appropriate technologies, a movement pioneering the use of technology that is energy efficient and environmentally sound.
Though the month-long project is over, FCA participates in other charity projects, such as clothing drives and Relay for Life.
It also works with a student-run charity, Balik Bayan Books, to send books to orphanages and schools in the Philippines.
The total monetary value the FCA raised is not yet known, but Babich said it collected hundreds of cans from club members throughout the duration of the fundraiser, more than expected.
“The amount has been a little difficult to handle,” because of the sheer quantity of cans, he said. “But I’m so happy with the turnout.”
Rachel Karitis is a journalism student at the University of Maryland, College Park.