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Local school gets $73,000 grant for solar panel system

Staff writer

Goessel schools just earned big money and big prizes for pondering the sun.

Last week, Superintendent John Fast received word that USD 411 won a $73,000 grant as part of Westar Energy’s Solar Photovoltaic Project.

“I’m so pumped,” Superintendent John Fast said Friday. “My secretary about had to pull me down off the ceiling.”

The grant includes 40 solar panels that convert sunlight into electrical energy. Fast estimated they would save the district $100 to $200 a month once installed.

“As tight as things have been lately, we can look to redirect savings back into classrooms,” Fast said.

Goessel’s grant proposal included input from 14 staff members about how the solar power system would be used in the classroom because the system also is outfitted with computer software for students.

“It will be used to help teach electrical and renewable energy to K-12 students in the science curriculum,” Fast said. “The system will also be used in business classes as well as ag education.”

The program allows students to see the input and output of individual panels as well as the whole system at once, Fast said. The software is meant to help students grasp how solar energy is collected and converted to electrical energy.

Kindergarten teachers will introduce students to the idea of solar energy when they read stories about the sun and wind.

In first grade, teachers will use solar panels to help understand weather, seasons, and the sky.

Fourth graders will collect data and create graphs using panels and software.

Fast said high school students would study color, weather forecasting, and predict sunrise and sunset using the system throughout the school year.

The solar panels are scheduled to be installed in a highly visible open area west of the elementary by the end of the school year.

Last modified Sept. 3, 2015

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