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Solar School in Shoreline, Washington

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

The Walmart Foundation funded a 5 kW solar electricity project at the in Shoreline, Washington just outside of Seattle. The solar panels are visible to anyone visiting the school because they are on a slanted first story roof near the front entrance to the school. They are in fact directly above the student drop off location.

Einstein Middle School Solar Panels

Einstein Middle School Solar Panels

Einstein Middle School Roof

Einstein Middle School Roof

There will be a teacher training workshop held at Shoreline Community College this Fall, but the teaching has already begun.

Their live data feed showing how much electricity is being generated will be on line this week.

The school now has a solar cooker and food cooked by the sun is coming to their classrooms.

A Shoreline Community College graduate has a company that did the installation and current students of Shoreline Community College helped with the installation. The students in one class even dressed in bow ties like their idol Bill Nye the Science Guy and every one of them wrote a little something below stating why they thought this solar school project was important to them and/or their school. Cristi Camp is the teacher who organized it and her story is also included below.

Einstein Middle School Kids

Einstein Middle School Kids

The solar celebration is May 27th at the school at 1:30.

The school web page can be found on solarschools.org

–Glen Kizer

Our Solar School

May, 5, 2010 is the first operating day for Einstein Middle School’s new solar photovoltaic (PV) system. It is perfect timing as the 7th grade students have just finished the ecology unit and have begun to learn about energy transformations. They will learn about technologies that harness energy, including solar PV systems, and will also learn of the environmental and economic impacts of both non-renewable and renewable sources and have to evaluate the benefits and risks of these energy solutions.

It is exciting to witness the interest of our students grow in the realm of environmental science. The solar PV system installed on our school brings home the reality of the cultural shift towards an environmentally responsible society that our students are apart of and will ultimately lead in the future. The perspectives of our Einstein students are presented below, directly from the students themselves – such a thoughtful group of kids – I hope you read them all!

–Cristi Camp

What Our Students Have to Say

“Recently, my school has added solar panels on our roof to save energy. I think that this is a great idea and might influence others to save energy too. The solar panel system will help because it will save money, it is low maintenance, and it’s clean and renewable. But, it takes up a lot of space, it relies on location of the sun, pollution and clouds affect it, and energy doesn’t get produced at night. Overall, it is still good for our school because nobody is here at night and our school is big so space doesn’t matter. Having the solar panels is also good because we are learning about energy in science right now and we learn better because we have a way to harness energy that we could use as an example now.”

–Jessica Y.

“Hello everybody, the main point of this letter will be to talk about some of the things that I have learned and things that I still want to know. In the beginning of this year I started out by learning what matter was. Now, I am learning about several different ways to harness energy and different forms of energy. At my school we have installed several solar panels. By installing these panels, we have taken a step towards using more solar energy in my community. Hopefully all the attention that this project has been getting will encourage many other people to also turn towards more renewable energy sources such as wind, hydro, solar, biomass, or geothermal energy. As a class, we have divided into small groups to research one particular energy source. Coincidently, my group received solar. Now, since I have not started on my research yet, I don’t know much about solar panels. I know that the energy transformation starts with light energy (coming from the sun) that is transformed into electrical energy (in the solar cell or panel). I also know that they are every expensive and that if we want the cost to go down, we have to have more people buying them, but how can we get this to happen? Well, I’ll tell you what I think. I think that people who can easily afford it should buy some to set an example. If people came to their senses and realized that using renewable energy is feasible, how long would it take before the carbon dioxide parts per million level recedes to a safe, healthy level? Would we be able to save the planet in time?”

–Gwen M.

“I am very excited that my school is getting solar panels because I am a sort of an environmental freak and I hate to even think of what’s happening to our atmosphere everyday. It’s really very horrible and I find it as a very depressing thought. It’s good to know that my school is taking the first big step in helping to rid the world of these problems. Also, it shows how quickly and effectively we are advancing into the technological age. I would do anything to help save our planet and I can’t think of a better way to do so than running the school on solar power. I want to be there when it happens and when we completely switch to the power of the sun. This is why I really want to be part of this installation. It wouldn’t matter if it was filmed or not because I would still be there either way and I know that this will make a great example to others who will hopefully follow in our footsteps.”

–Kabir K.

“I think it is so cool that my school got solar panels because now my school is going into the future of energy conservation. This is such a cool experience for me because now that I see it working at my school I want to get one for my house so that I can help change the planet into something more eco-friendly. In science class I have learned how a battery works and a little about how we make energy now using coal, hydropower, nuclear, and natural gas, also solar power. I think learning about how we can save electricity in middle school will help our generation become more and more eco-friendly as we get older.”

–Scott L.

“You know that saying ‘one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind?’ That’s just like adding the solar panels on to our school and community, but one giant leap for the State, Nation, and world. Once people see or find out what we are doing, it will encourage others to do the same and then soon enough we will make a big difference.”

–Ashley G.

“I think that it is good for the school to be converting to solar panel energy. If we all do this, even at home, we will make the earth a better place for our children.”

–Daelin N.

“I’ve learned a lot about energy in this unit, both from my science class and the fact that we’ve had solar panels installed into Einstein middle school. It shows us a new way of harness energy and, for myself, it’s the first time I’ve seen actual solar panels. I’ve learned how people, animals and plants get energy (from the sun) and ways to harness it (like burning coal, hydroelectric, windmills etc.) But my real question is how do these things work? Yes, we’ve learned about the conversions from types of energy to other types of energy, but how do these things work? How are they able to so easily convert? I have learned many things, like energy cannot randomly disappear, but it can change form. I find this really interesting. We learned how to make a battery in my science class, and what you need are two metals and an electrolyte, which seems really simple.”

–Daneyal A.

“I have learned about energy transformations in science. Energy transformations are when energy changes, for example, from electric to motion or chemical to mechanical. There are a few ways to harvest energy into electric from a copper and zinc strip in copper sulfate, or maybe spinning magnets using water or wind. But some types cannot be regenerated like gas and coal. Also some can even be lethal like nuclear energy. I know energy can also be harvested from the sun using solar power. I would like to know more about solar power because I keep on hearing solar power, solar power, and solar power. But what is it really? I know it uses light in the plates or something like that but how does it really work. That is what I want to know.”

–Jonathan L.

“The economy is changing so much and Einstein getting solar panels is a huge step. I’m excited to learn more about energy harnessing and how it affects the world. I’ve always been confused on how electricity is bad for the environment. In class we’ve been building batteries and it’s so interesting to learn what materials are used and who made the ‘first’ one.”

–Hailey C.

“The economy is changing so much and Einstein getting solar panels is a huge step. I’m excited to learn more about energy harnessing and how it affects the world. I’ve always been confused on how electricity is bad for the environment. In class we’ve been building batteries and it’s so interesting to learn what materials are used and who made the ‘first’ one.”

–Hailey C.

“Our school has just started to go solar. We are really looking forward to putting more solar panels up later on. I think this is a great way to help our community start being more ‘green.’ Even thou I personally don’t know much about solar power, I’m hoping that I will be able to know more about through this. GO GREEN!”

–Aria C.

“Right now we are learning about energy. We are learning about forms of energy like chemical and thermal energy. We are also learning about how energy changes from one form to another and how to harness energy”

–Alex Z.

“I am excited to have solar panels as it benefits not only the school but the whole community and even the world. The solar panels are taking energy directly from the sky. The sun is already up in the sky, so why not harness its energy? It benefits the community because it is cleaner and energy efficient.”

–Owen P.

“What’s great about solar energy is that it’s better for the environment than traditional forms of energy. It can be used for many things, such as to heat swimming pools, power cars, attic fans, calculators, light, and more. However, some cons for it is that the weather can affect the system. This made me wonder, while living in usually rainy and cloudy Seattle, how will this work our when there’s no sunlight? Also, do we need a back-up plan if someone wants to turn on lights when it is dark? When I read about all the other schools making a difference like us, it made me feel great to become part of this help. With more schools doing this, we could have a much better environment. I loved seeing all the different levels of schools with solar panels but it made me curious. If no one were at school when it is pitch black, would solar energy work in regular homes? Every now and then there’s a reason to get up in the middle of the night, whether it’s a mid-night snack or a sleepover. How would the energy work then? Would the power even turn on? Also, solar energy can heat things, how can it heat things on a cloudy, cold day? I’m looking forward to finding out these answers because it makes me wonder, will the lights at school be dimmer? Will the heating be colder? Will it affect anything in our day-to-day school life? I can’t wait to learn more and find out more things about solar energy.”

–Madison C.

“Our school has just put in solar panels on the south side of one of our buildings. We put these solar panels in for a couple of reasons: to generate energy for heating and lighting and to conserve energy. I believe that this plan will help us reduce wasted energy and also encourage other schools to go solar.”

–Riley F.

“Ever since my dad started his business in solar, I have been wanting to learn more and more. So far I know that solar comes from the sun making it an eco-friendly way to get energy. The sun hits the solar panels sending the energy through the wires to create the power. Even though we live in Seattle and it gets cloudy, we still have the option of going solar. Slowly, the world is also going solar. For example, I went to Hawaii where there were solar panels on almost every house. An advantage of getting solar is that it is healthy for Earth but a disadvantage is that it’s expensive. Many people don’t want to pay for the expensive cost of the panels but, if you think about it, over time the panels will pay for themselves. We’ll start saving money each year! As I was going through my dad’s solar book, I found out that solar could be used for anything; water pumping for pools, for example, or on camping tents, and even on the rover up on Mars. Another object that some people don’t even notice has solar are our very own calculators, things as simple as those! Another thing I am informed on is that solar panels are made of a bunch of cells working together. What I would like to learn is more information about these cells. What types of cells are there? And how exactly do they work together?”

–Jelena B.

“The solar panels, in my opinion, are very helpful to both us and the environment. They are eco-friendly objects that do not waste away or use any resource, except the sun. In addition, solar panels are also helpful to us by providing rich, quality energy. They also give us the opportunity to learn about the solar panels as they are now installed at our school. I want to learn many things about these solar panels. For example, I want to learn the change of energy transformations that occur to generate the power. There is much curiosity in my brain about the subject but getting answers to my questions will lead to my understanding.”

–Caleb T.

“Just recently at my school, Einstein Middle School, we had solar panels installed (but only on one building). We are excited that our school is going solar. In science, we are learning about energy and how it goes from one place to another and how to write the sequence of energy transformations. It think that it is important to learn about energy because we should know what it is and how it impacts our planet. I mean, we only have one planet so how are we going to keep it running? One time in class, we saw how the world looks at night from an outer space picture. It showed that the United States uses a lot of energy. The eastern side has so much light on. Most other parts, like Asia and Africa, either are really dark or have some light in them. I think we need to cut down on our energy usage.”

–Karina S.

“It seems to me that our way of life is changing. That what’s happening is something new that will affect all of us. Our school, Einstein Middle School, had just installed solar panels on our roof. I am very glad that we got these solar panels because they don’t produce any harmful chemicals. These now power the lights in our room. I’m not sure if it powers all of the lights in the school, but if it doesn’t I hope someday we can progress to that. After we talked about the environment and how it was negatively changing, my outlook on recycling and taking care of Earth has changed. I now recycle more and pick up trash. I believe that we need to make a change in how we live and start investigating ways to take care of Earth better. This is the place we live and it’s where our children and grandchildren will live. Do you want them to grow up in a place where our supplies are running out?”

–Courtney C.



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