Sunday, November 27, 2016

Partnerships in Action: Net-Zero Science Classroom Advances to Phase II

The advancement of renewable energy innovation is in the hands of 6th grade students. And rightly so.  This past year, science teacher John Woods and his students at North Fork Middle School in Quicksburg, Virginia, have been implementing real-world energy solutions to develop a Net-Zero Science Classroom.  With financial support from the Moore Educational Trust and partnerships with SUNRNR and other local businesses and community-based organizations, the full vision of a Net-Zero Science Center is shining bright.

Phase I

The Net-Zero Science Center has a two phase implementation plan.  Phase I includes a Mini Instructional Alternative Energy System with the purpose of providing students a compact instructional off-grid ground-level system that can be explored and deployed each academic year.   A SUNRNR 110, ground mounted solar panels, and a ground deployed wind turbine were chosen to serve as the instructional components for investigating hands-on, real-life alternative energy applications.

Phase II

The second phase to reach Net-Zero includes the design and implementation of a Grid-Tie Alternative Energy System that will power the entire classroom via solar and wind.  The project recently received a boost with the donation of a 45-panel 3kW solar array.  The panels came from a decommissioned remote communications installation, and once the array is installed it is expected to fully power all the classroom’s lighting, computers, and devices. With this crucial donation, the project now enters Phase II and is seeking partnerships to accomplish the technical and design elements necessary for a fully operational Alternative Energy System and instructional space.

Innovation Begins with Questions

“What would it take to….?”  These young energy scientists at North Fork Middle School have embraced the challenge to reduce their school’s dependence on the conventional energy grid.  And by immersing themselves in problem-solving and building a network of advisors, this 6th Grade classroom is fast becoming a model for engaging in alternative energy solutions.

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