Every kid knows it: School is boring, and science and math are the worst offenders. But maybe math and science only get a bad rap because they’re taught in a boring manner.

Last year, teachers at Cabrillo College in Aptos, Calif., used a grant from the National Science Foundation to help students build an “energy bike” that makes a powerful statement about light bulbs. Something you might not get from looking at your utility bill.

For about $600, the school purchased all the materials students would need to build the bike, including an old bicycle, wood for a stable platform, a 12-volt motor, and lots of electrical cord. They then built a box that featured two rows of incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs. The bike’s back wheel was attached to the motor, the motor was attached to an inverter, and the inverter was attached to the light bulb box via electrical cord. The idea was to generate electricity by pedaling the bike, and compare how much energy was needed to power the fluorescent lights versus the incandescent bulbs.

Can you guess which one took far less sweat?

According to the Sacramento Bee, the entire bank of fluorescent lights up with virtually no pedal effort. But getting even one incandescent bulb to light up takes considerably more effort, like switching from fifth gear to first gear on a regular bicycle.

The students were so excited about the bike that they wanted to share the love: They created a handbook with step-by-step instructions so others can build their own. They also donated their working energy bike to to Joe Manildi, a physics teacher at Aptos High School who will use it to inspire his students to get creative with math and science concepts.

Photo credit: Cabrillo College

Video credit: John Welch/Cabrillo College