Solar power education reaches middle school

STEM program aims to expose students to solar electricity


Jayde Claussen

Students at the middle school will be building solar suitcases and learning about the energy problems that people in Africa face. These suitcases will be finished by late fall and will be sent to Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya.

Sam Swisher

As middle school social studies teacher Molly Rosen prepares to help her students build solar suitcases, she said her goal for her students is to apply learning experiences with real world results.

“Our eighth graders will take the hands-on and humanitarian approach to learning, with a real-world application,” Rosen said. “Within this unit of study, some of the learning experiences will be learning how to deliver solar energy to the developing world and how to meet immediate societal needs.”

Gigi Goldman, the Co-director for We Care Solar, said the company is a non profit that helps design and distribute solar solutions for the developing world.

“The program is a science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) education program using solar electricity as the platform for learning, and about a clean energy source that is obviously very technical and very STEM oriented,” Goldman said. “What we really want students to take away is a fascination with solar as a renewable energy source.”

Goldman said the suitcases will go to help reugees in Africa.

“The solar suitcases will go to the largest refugee camp in Africa called Kakuma,” Goldman said. “There is absolutely no electricity at all. It is home to 200,000 refugees from places like South Sudan, Somalia and Congo.”

According to Rosen, her students will finish the suitcases by late fall.

“Our We Share Solar Suitcases will be finished being built by mid-November,” Rosen said. “The middle school will be deploying six We Share Solar suitcases to Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya.” 

Junior Nick Perszyk, a member of the high school robotics team, said the middle schoolers have a great opportunity. 

“I think that is a great opportunity for the students to learn about STEM and get real hands-on experiences with new sources of energy,” Perszyk said.