After Ideal Energies (a commercial solar developer) added a solar array to the rooftop of Central Elementary, they presented the 5th graders with an exciting opportunity: connect to a real-world problem-based learning experience on solar energy and utilize STEM skills. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The goal of the project is to engage students in the real work of STEM professionals to develop their understanding of solar energy, STEM careers, teamwork, design, and real-world issues.
So far, students have done research on energy, electricity, development and parts of solar panels. Nicki Kreuser, 5th grade science teacher, says, “The students are engaged and loving the research material and are excited to get into the design process.” They will be tasked with designing an array of solar panels and have to consider efficiency, costs, legal codes and aesthetics. Students are not only learning great content, they are also using critical thinking skills, developing questions, testing hypotheses, and collaborating to create presentations to represent their thinking and findings.