Students at now have a unique opportunity to study solar power with a SunFlower solar panel provided by the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District.
Will Rogers is the only school in the San Juan Unified School District to receive this device, and is the second school in the county of Sacramento. The SunFlower is an 18-foot, 400-watt solar powered device.
Although the Sun Flower does not provide power for the school, it allows students to study solar energy. Students have the ability to manipulate the orientation and angle of the panels to see find out which combination works best to harness the most energy.
“The solar SunFlower is strictly for education,” said Patrick McCoy, a project manager for SMUD. “We call it a learning laboratory.”
Studying the SunFlower allows students to learn about data research, and can also be used for math and science lessons. The device has a website where students and teachers can download and conduct data analysis for class lessons and experiments.
The SunFlower has charging outlets attached to its base, so students will have the ability to use its power for small electrical devices.
“The hope is that the kids will develop a much stronger interest in math and sciences,” McCoy said. “As a learning lab, it is our hope and dream that it will encourage more kids to become curious about the math and sciences and pursue a college education degree in those fields.”
The other goal SMUD has with the SunFlower is communit awareness and engagement. McCoy stressed the importance of keeping talks of renewable energy in people’s minds.
The SunFlowers are funded by SMUD and the school district. SMUD has a separate fund that they use for the project, using money from its Community Solar program, and not from ratepayer funds. The Community Solar program money is raised from donations only.
McCoy said SMUD paid for the fabrication of the SunFlower, and the school paid for the construction, installation and inspection. The estimated cost of the SunFlower is $25,000 to $30,000.
“We feel that we’ve been very successful in achieving the goal so far today,” McCoy said. “The school districts actually have been very excited. So far, Sacramento City, San Juan and Elk Grove are looking beyond the first installation and are already developing plans for additional installations.”