Giving Compass’ Take:
• In small Colorado towns, solar energy is becoming the way forward for communities left behind by the coal industry. In North Fork Valley, solar classes are combining technical training and scientific learning to teach students about solar energy.
• How are you supporting solar energy in communities that need it?
• Learn about the benefits of solar technology for schools.
This story was originally published by High Country News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
At a picnic table in a dry grass field, a group of elementary school students watched as high school senior Xavier Baty, a broad-shouldered 18-year-old in a camouflage ball cap and scuffed work boots, attached a hand-sized solar panel cell to a small motor connected to a fan. He held the panel to face the setting Colorado sun, adjusting its angle to vary the fan speed.
“Want to hear a secret?” he asked the kids around him. “This is the only science class I ever got an ‘A’ in.”
As he readily acknowledges, Baty hasn’t been the most enthusiastic science student at Delta High School. This class, however, is different. Along with a group of other seniors and a few juniors, Baty is enrolled in “Solar Energy Training.” The class not only provides a science credit needed for graduation; it also trains students for careers in solar energy or the electrical trades. It allows Baty to work with his hands, something he enjoys, while positioning him for employment in a fast-growing industry.
In Colorado’s North Fork Valley, solar energy — along with a strong organic farm economy and recreation dollars — is helping to fill the economic hole left by the dying coal industry, which sustained the area for more than 120 years.
From an educational view, solar class’ value rests in its capacity to combine technical training and scientific learning outside the traditional grade structure. This dynamic was on full display on a bright fall day in October. The class was participating in an energy reduction contest against other Delta County high schools. Sponsored by the Colorado Energy Office, the Renew Our Schools program promotes student-run energy efficiency projects. At the end of the five-week competition, the winning school would receive $12,000.
Read the full article about solar energy classes by Nick Bowlin at Grist.
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