The Oceano Solar School Project

Story written by Jim DeCecco, and credit to Darrin Neuer for Photographs

It was a great day to go solar.  Here at Oceano Elementary School, which is about 90 miles north of Santa Barbara, California, we had a “Solar Celebration”.  The classrooms of sixth grade teacher, Mr. DeCecco and fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Hall celebrated the start of renewable energy at Oceano Elementary School.  The students cooked S’mores in their solar ovens, flew solar balloons, and analyzed the output from their new 1 kilowatt solar system provided by Pacific Gas and Electric Company. 
This was the culmination of a 2 month energy unit in which they learned about the different types of energy.  The students analyzed how they use energy and where the energy they use comes from.  In Mr. DeCecco’s class the students will use the information they have gathered to write and publish an energy guide later in the semester.


The school is making a huge push to lower their energy costs.  A school wide effort is being made in order to use energy more efficiently.  The school used $22,000 worth of electricity last year.  An agreement with the school district will allow Oceano Elementary School to receive half of the savings from reduced electrical consumption at the school.  Students have been monitoring classrooms to make sure lights are turned off when no one is in the classroom.  They are making sure all refrigerators at the school are full, even if it means putting jugs of water in them.  Because as the students researched, a full refrigerator uses less electricity than an empty refrigerator.    Students hope that using energy wisely will allow them to go on a few more field trips this year. 

Of course, our new solar panels will help reduce the cost of electricity.  Students will be monitoring the output of the panels through special software hooked up to computers in the classroom.  They will look at the electricity generated by the solar panels and then calculate the savings to the school.  Besides using math and science skills to calculate electrical output and savings, the students can monitor the carbon savings from their computers.  The software breaks down the carbon savings for the students and that information is fed into the classroom.  They then can use the information while studying about Global Warming.

All in all it was a great day for a solar celebration. 


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