Learning from green power

Written by Administrator
 | Tuesday, 15 September 2009 22:50

Let there be renewable energy.

With much ceremony, the ribbon was cut on the new 2.4 kilowatt solar panel at Chandler Elementary School Tuesday morning. Although the power generated by the 12 photo voltaic panels probably won’t make a sizable dent in the school district’s utility bills, it rep-sents the first alternative energy device on town property and an educational bonanza for Duxbury students.

Almost two years ago, the drive for the solar panel started through the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, eventually netting 211 donations, according to Sustainable Duxbury Co-Chairman Jim Savicki. The solar array was installed over the summer and began generating electricity in July. The panels are essentially maintenance free and the energy provided goes directly to Chandler.

“It’s our hope that these kids are going to see it, and grow up with it,” said Savicki. “There has been a lot of apprehensiveness about [alternative energy] in the past.”

Through software provided by the company Heliotronics, students at Chandler, as well as across the district, will be able to monitor the power output and other statistics from the solar panel. Teachers will be able to use this information in the classroom.

Superintendent Susan Skeiber said that alternative energy will become just another part of the school’s science curriculum in the future.

“I think it’s another piece of education our schools are going to provide for our kids going forward,” she said. She pointed out that in discussions regarding the feasibility study for the middle school and high school, approved by voters this spring, the idea of green technology has been a big issue.

Skeiber said a group of teachers from all levels has already attended training sessions, learning how to use the software and apply it in the classrooms. After Tuesday’s ribbon cutting ceremony, Heliotronics President Clayton Handleman gave a hands-on demonstration to staffers. He said teachers should be able to tie in lessons on science, physics and math, all using the solar panels.

Savicki hopes that the array will generate a youth movement for green energy in Duxbury. He pointed to the recent Island Creek Oyster Festival, where a core of young volunteers helped Sustainable Duxbury recycle or compost 90 percent of the trash produced.

“It’s good to see younger folks involved,” he said. “By the time these kids are my age they may have these things in their homes.”