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Eighth graders learn about solar energy

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Photo submitted Delta Middle School eighth graders attended Solar Lab Days at the Solar Energy International's Paonia facility on Nov. 3.

Solar Energy International's Solar In the Schools (SIS) outreach program recently hosted its third Solar Lab Days for 8th grade students from Delta Middle, Cedaredge Middle, Hotchkiss K-8 and Paonia Jr./Sr. High schools. In the span of four days, 344 students came to SEI's lab facility in Paonia to participate in introductory solar energy activities and presentations.

Students rotated through six hands-on labs which included activities in energy efficiency, measuring energy, solar orientation, solar site analysis, testing properties of a photovoltaic cell, solar art, high voltage safety and basics of electricity demonstrations.

Students learned what solar panels are made of and how they turn the sun's energy into electricity. They also measured how much power a solar cell can produce in various conditions. At the solar site analysis lab, students determined the amount of sunlight and shade a specific site will have over the entire year. Another lab had students measure energy needed to run common household appliances and calculate their annual energy costs. Student's hair stood on end when they held the Van De Graff generator at the basic properties of electricity lab. Students created solar art and powered toys using small solar panels and found out just how efficient LED lights are. Delta Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) staff ran the high voltage safety demonstration station where students roasted hot dogs, apples and a jack-o-lantern, and participated in a high voltage demonstration about how to work safely with electricity.

SEI's Solar in the Schools program partnered with Delta Montrose Electric Association, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, and Colorado State Wildlife and Park's TEN (Teaching Environments Naturally).

Western Slope communities have a long history with energy production through coal mining and more recently with solar electricity. Solar In the Schools helps young people to understand energy in order to wisely power their homes, their cars and their communities. The goals of SEI's Solar In the Schools program is to reach out to local youth to spark their interest in learning about and applying renewable energy technologies. As a non-profit educational organization, Solar Energy International has been providing technical training and expertise in renewable energy for over 25 years. SEI offers hands-on workshops and online courses in solar photovoltaics (PV), micro-hydro and solar hot water.

SEI also works with grassroots and development organizations to promote sustainability and improve quality of life worldwide through its outreach programs. SEI's Solar In the Schools (SIS) outreach program reaches out to K-12 students through classroom presentations, teacher trainings, solar lab days, a high school solar training program, a lending library of energy-teaching equipment and a free online renewable energy course. Solar In the Schools has now reached more than 14,000 students and teachers in western Colorado.

For more information about SEI's Solar In the Schools please visit www.solarenergy.org or contact andrea@solarenergy.org.

Photo submitted Delta Montrose Electric Association participated with a demonstration on the importance of safety near high voltage transmission poles.
Photo submitted Powering toys and fountains with solar modules during SEI Solar Lab Days held earlier this month.
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