To Study Renewable Energy, Middlesex County Students Look to Their Own Back Yard

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When fifth graders at Middlesex Elementary School began their energy unit in science last week, they did not have to go far to find a real-life example of renewable energy in action. Located just beyond the playground and soccer fields, the two on-site solar arrays serve as a valuable learning resource for students in addition to a supply of power for the elementary school and nearby middle school.

Fifth grade science students investigate solar energy at their school

All students in Virginia learn about energy, comparing renewable and non-renewable energy sources. But Middlesex students have the unique opportunity to really see where their schools’ energy comes from. Fifth grade science teacher Paige Moore began Energy unit by generating curiosity – asking students to generate questions. Then the students went outside, guided by an interactive worksheet to observe the solar panels and interpret the informational signs.

A student reads an informational sign about solar energy

The unit concluded with a presentation from Sun Tribe, Middlesex County Public Schools’ solar partner, to answer some of the questions the students generated at the beginning of the unit. Students collected facts about the solar array at their school and evaluated the pro's and con's of solar energy.

Students take notes during the presentation from Sun Tribe

Students learn about their schools' solar array and evaluate the pro's and con's of solar energy.

Middlesex County Public Schools is a national leader in providing educational opportunities while being good stewards of community resources. Working closely with Sun Tribe, Middlesex County Public Schools installed the first ground-mounted solar system at any school in Virginia in 2018 and was the first school district in the Commonwealth to have its schools 100% powered by on-site renewable energy. (All while saving $4.74 million for taxpayers.) That legacy of education and innovation continues today.

NOTE: Madison Energy Infrastructure acquired Sun Tribe Solar in April 2024. The team remains dedicated to continuing - and growing - the reach and impact of Solar Empowered Schools.