The Environmental Club at my high school, Mounds Park Academy, is raising money to purchase a 1.4 kW solar array and corresponding educational materials. The panels would be installed in a highly visible location on school grounds and would help to increase awareness about environmental issues in the school and surrounding communities, and to shape students into environmentally conscious young adults. In addition, the panels would provide meteorological and energy intake data to be incorporated into the science curriculum.
Mounds Park Academy (MPA) and the surrounding communities would greatly benefit from a demonstration alternative energy system. Students and parents would see the array every time they drive into school. Included in the costs is kiosk or small touch screen that would be installed in the school’s main lobby and would provide families and visitors information on the array, data the array collects, and information concerning alternative energies and other environmental issues. In addition, MPA is located on a busy road so the solar panels would be visible to a much larger audience than the school community alone. The array would not only call attention the growing necessity for green technologies, but would also demonstrate to families how easy installing and using alternative energy sources can be, motivating them to apply this lesson in their own homes and lifestyles.
The array would collect a wide variety of data to be used in science classes. The attached meteorological system would include a temperature sensor, a rain gauge, a relative humidity sensor, an anemometer (measures wind speed), a wind vane, a barometric pressure sensor, and a pyranometer (measures sunlight). Also, the rack angle can be easily adjusted to conduct experiments. There are free lesson plans available to help teachers integrate this information, and how it relates to the array’s energy intake, into the science curriculum. The data would be accessible in real-time online. MPA is home to grades pre-kindergarten through twelve so students would grow up very familiar with the solar array and thus knowledgeable about issues and technologies the panels would represent.
Our school has pledged one third of the array’s total $30,000 cost if we students can raise the other two-thirds, or $20,000. This is a very large undertaking, but we are confidant we can raise the money through fundraisers and grants. So far this year, our Environmental Club has recieved one $5000 grant and has raised about $2000 by hosting various events at school such as bake sales and a rummage sale.
As for a timeline, we plan on installing the array as soon as funding is secured. This project will continue to educate for decades to come. Solar arrays require very little maintenance and can last for 30+ years and there is no better institution for inspiring environmentalism than a school, where a child’s character and values are shaped for life!