San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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July 24th, 2008
SMCISD teachers introduce "Solar for Schools" energy conservation project

San Marcos CISD is participating in a state wide program entitled “Solar for Schools”. “Solar for Schools” was developed by Texas State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) to provide educational resources for K-12 teachers on renewable energy and energy efficiency. The resources include units of study for K-12 teachers to introduce students to concepts such as solar, wind and biomass energy, energy conservation in the home, and alternative vehicle power. All of the units correspond to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for all of the core subjects.

“Participation in the ‘Solar for Schools ‘project is San Marcos CISD’s response to educating students about the current energy crisis. The program is also aimed to encourage students to conduct research and learn about ways to meet future needs for renewable energy sources, as well as to help San Marcos protect its environment,” says Ronda Stonecipher, Director of Instructional Technology.

SMCISD teachers received training on how to implement the program and teach using hands-on activities. During the training, teachers learned how to make a solar oven to cook food. The oven was constructed using minimal supplies such as a cardboard box, foil, clear plastic wrap and tape. Participants were amazed at how effective the simple solar oven worked. Participants were able to cook nachos in a matter of 20 minutes using only the sun’s energy.

Teachers also assembled motor spinners using Photovoltaic or PV Cells (solar cells that convert sunlight into energy). They were able to experiment with the PV Cells using varied levels of light and shade to test the effects of direct sun light versus indirect sun light and record the differences.

Other hands-on solar activities that teachers participated in were the use of solar beads that changed color in sunlight and the use of a radiometer. A radiometer is a device that spins based on light sources. How fast it spins depends on the intensity of the light.

The “Solar for Schools Project” is a collaboration partnering SMCISD schools with the State Energy Conservation Office and the City of San Marcos Electric Utility Department.

Director of Instructional Technology – San Marcos CISD

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Jennifer Chapa from Crockett Elementary and Kathy Fitzgibbons from Goodnight Junior High bake nachos in a solar oven they constructed. SMCISD Photo

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