VSW Student Builds an Electrifying Class Project

Ben demonstrates his Tesla coil, which took him almost three months to build.

When freshman Ben Hendel is assigned a project in his Extended Learning Program class at Valley Southwoods, his teacher knows to expect him to bring something out of the ordinary to class. His second semester project, however, was especially extravagant.

“When Ben starts a project, you have no notion of what it will be,” said VSW ELP teacher Judy Olson. “This one was definitely the most amazing project anyone has done for ELP.”

When searching for something to create for his project, Ben came across some YouTube videos of Tesla coils and he thought, “Hey, I can do that.”

The Tesla coil was invited by Nikola Tesla in the late 1800s. It produces high voltage electricity, which can transfer wirelessly. Large Tesla coils have been known to wirelessly light up florescent lights up to 50 feet away. A VSW teacher tested this theory with Ben’s Tesla coil and got a florescent light to light up within a few feet of his model.

He gathered items from home and from the classroom, including salt water capacitors, a neon transformer, copper pipes, a bicycle wheel with a hubcap attached and PVC pipes, which were grounded for safety. From start to finish, it took Ben almost three months to build his Tesla coil. To coil the copper pipes alone, he worked an hour a day for three weeks in order to make it perfect.

When it was complete, his parents wouldn’t let him test it out unless there was a certified electrician present. Luckily, they had a family friend who helped Ben make some final tweaks in order to get it to work properly.

“This project is going to get 3 million percent,” joked Olson. “It’s just really cool. Definitely an A.”

You can see a video demonstration of the Tesla coil here: VSW Tesla Coil Demonstration