The idea for Juice from Juice first came to Professor Nate Lewis in 2008, as CCI Solar was applying for a phase II grant from the NSF. The main focus of the project would be to build a dye-sensitized solar cell using natural fruit juices as the dye, ideally making the experiment suitable to be performed by students in secondary school. In 2010, Mike Walter, a postdoc of Nate Lewis, decided to flesh out the Juice from Juice project and turn the experiment into a workshop for local teachers. Mike was joined by fellow postdocs Qixi Mi and Leslie O’Leary, and Pasadena area teachers Deborah Hawks and Gurupreet Khalsa. Together they developed lesson plans for building a dye-sensitized solar cell and 3 more accompanying modules in Chemistry, Physics and Biology.
In December 2010, the group held the first Juice from Juice workshop with 16 participants. The workshop was very successful. In fact, one of the participants, Professor David Brown from Southwestern College, was so inspired by the activity that he incorporated it into his iLaser program. Professor Brown has been teaching the DSSC lesson to underprivileged students along the Mexican border from California to Texas including children in Northern Mexico.
Since 2010, the program has continued to expand and grow. In 2011 it became clear that it was inefficient for our researchers at Caltech to put together the Juice from Juice kits. We therefore formed a partnership with the science eduction supply company, Arbor Scientific. They assemble and distribute the Juice from Juice kits for us. This also had the consequence of broadening the reach of the Juice from Juice project across the country (and the world). To help guide teachers purchasing the kit online who may be too far to attend a workshop at Caltech, the team put together a series of instructional videos. The videos are available on youtube, the Juice from Juice site, and Arbor Scientific’s page.
In Fall 2011, postdoc Shane Ardo (who had taken over the project when Mike Walters started a position at UNC- Charlotte) and Managing Director Siddharth Dasgupta visited Professor Jorge Colon in Puerto Rico. UPR now hosts many community workshops on Juice from Juice as well teaching the public about solar energy. Their group also provided us with lesson resources in Spanish.
In fall of 2015, Lewis group graduate student Annelise Thompson revised the Juice from Juice curriculum to align with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Also included in this revision was replacing the biology chromatography experiment with the water splitting experiment and updating the physics module to a new experiment on light absorption.
The Juice from Juice project is still expanding and being presented in a variety of formats- not just at teacher workshops or in the classroom. We have presented at the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History, LA County Earth Day Fair, Kidspace Museum Family Night, many school science/STEM fairs, and at both CSTA and NSTA conferences. Juice from Juice is adaptable to almost any setting and any age group and we look forward to continuing to teach more people about solar energy with this project.