Last week, 20 Middle School students at The Wardlaw + Hartridge School in Edison, with the help of The Stone House Group, set out to understand the promise and limitations of sustainable energy and solar power in an exciting after school STEM workshop.
The week began with students learning the importance of harnessing solar power as a heating and cooking source and the challenges facing people without access to cooking fuel. In a hands-on experiment, students built solar ovens and measured the temperature throughout the day, learning to adjust their ovens based on environmental and engineering factors. The experiment ended with a solar cooked treat of s'mores.
In the middle of the week, the students enjoyed a field trip to the roof of the W+H main building. They learned the technology behind the solar panels and each group was asked to measure the proper angles of the solar panels to maximize their efficiency during the fall and spring months. Students were asked to use the information they gathered alongside the school's energy consumption to figure out the school's environmental and financial savings.
“It was an interesting topic and I learned things I didn’t know before, like that photons of light push the electrons away from the atoms to generate electricity in the panel and that we don’t use all the energy it generates,” Kori Brown of Plainfield said. “I am interested in signing up for the next STEM program in the spring.”
At the end of the week, students worked in teams to build their own solar powered cars using solar panels and their own ingenuity. The teams raced the cars using only solar power.