Students to learn about solar energy with hands-on project –

May 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

FORREST — The science lab at Prairie Central Junior High School will be a lot brighter this fall as students learn about renewable solar energy.

The Illinois Clean Energy Foundation granted $8,000 to install a 1 kilowatt photovoltaic system on the roof above the science lab, turning the building into a hands-on science experiment.

The program is intended to teach students how their everyday actions can positively impact the environment, said Scott Saffer, seventh-grade science teacher.

“Junior high students will be involved throughout the process,” Saffer said. They will build and test solar models in class and learn about solar and other renewable energy sources.

Tim Wilhelm, owner of Wilhelm Engineering and a professor of Electrical Technology at Kankakee Community College, will help plan the installation and materials. His college students will help with the final installation.

Data from the solar inverter will be available online for students and the community so they can monitor the output of the panels, the amount of sunlight, length of day, amount of energy produced, and even the amount of carbon emissions saved. Students will use that data to compare day length, to see the seasonal effect of sun angle, and to calculate the amount of money saved throughout the year.

“It’s an exciting project, and I’m glad our students will get to be a part of it,” said Saffer.

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