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Solar Panels Provide Power, Learning Opportunities in Texas


Pasedena Independent School District Solar Installation

The Pasadena Independent School District in Texas has completed construction on three solar installations that are expected to save approximately $15,000 a year.

The installations, totaling roughly 145 kilowatts, were built as the result of a partnership between the district, the Houston Advanced Research Center, and Ignite Solar at Sam Rayburn and South Houston High Schools.

The system is the largest solar rooftop project in Texas public school history, and was partially funded as the result of a Clean Air Act enforcement suit.The suit, pursued by the Sierra Club's Lone Star Chapter and Environment Texas against Shell Oil, was settled for $5.8 million in 2009, $2 million of which funded the PISD installations. Ignite Solar and subcontractors donated an additional $30,000 in materials and services.

The installations will also provide learning opportunities for the students by allowing them to work alongside engineers and scientists, or take advantage of the solar learning lab, educational kiosks, and portable demonstration units that were added to each campus as part of the project.

Grace Blasingame, science content specialist for the Pasadena district, said students "will perform real-world experiments with the data that we collect from the solar arrays."

Kirk Lewis, the Pasadena district superintendent, said that administration and staff are adding solar energy instruction to their curriculum, and that, "The knowledge and skills students will gain through these experiences will lead to more career pathways and provide more advanced learning opportunities."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].