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PEN wiki

Welcome to the Practical Energy Network


PEN grew out of our experiences teaching science and engineering at secondary schools in Ghana. We found that the majority of students lacked a proper practical education; their science was taught by echoing the blackboard, and experiments (when they occurred) focused on following instructions to get the ‘correct’ result.

We think that any student can be empowered by designing her own solution to a local challenge, and by building something that directly impacts her life and community. This is particularly true in countries that import the majority of their technology.


PEN's goal is to set up a network of clubs based in schools, FabLabs or other communities which teach students the basics of science and engineering design in a practical and useful way. The clubs will share an online curriculum based on designing solutions to energy problems – hugely important in many places in the developing world.

The core PEN curriculum aims to achieve two things: first, to build “creative capacity,” or the confidence and ingenuity to tackle real challenges; second, to teach students what they need to design their own solutions, with projects ranging from electricity generation to wind-powered waterpumps. The clubs are linked by a web platform that allows all members to add new lessons and projects, to ensure a dynamic and continuously-developing curriculum.


This May, Practical Energy Network won a grant from the MIT Global Challenge to start up a first club and pilot our curriculum. Currently we have “proto-clubs” in Takoradi, Ghana and San Francisco, USA. Development of the curriculum has begun on our web platform. If you'd like information on starting your own PEN club, contact If you are interested in contributing lesson ideas to the curriculum, take a look at the web platform or contact us.

Check out our latest news on the MIT Global Challenge blog.

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