Teachers From Across Virginia Plan Solar Energy Investigations for the Upcoming School Year

Posted Aug 17, 2023

While students are on vacation for the summer, teachers from across Virginia are working hard to find new ways to bring best practices for STEM education and career readiness to their classrooms. This summer, we are excited to work with over 100 science and CTE educators on ways to integrate solar energy education into their curriculum next year. And with Virginia’s goal to source 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2050, teachers recognize it's essential for students to learn about solar energy to prepare for their futures – from becoming informed citizens to growing as professionals in an ever-growing industry.

At the Virginia Technology and Engineering Education Association (VTEEA) conference this week, Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers from across the Commonwealth learned about the resources available through Solar Empowered Schools and James Madison University’s Center for the Advancement of Renewable Energy (JMU CASE), including a renewable energy equipment lending library for hands-on learning.

Teachers at the VTEEA conference attend a session called “Using Solar Energy to Power Learning” facilitated by Sun Tribe and JMU CASE.

Educators at VTEEA learn how to engage their students in hands-on wind and solar projects.

This summer JMU CASE also hosted a four-day Train-the-Trainer Academy designed for educators who already familiar with basic renewable energy concepts to level-up their activities. Participants are now prepared to confidently train other teachers to expand student reach.

Sun Tribe's Meghan Milo talks about solar technology during the 4-day Train-the-Trainer Academy at JMU.

Schools powered by solar are uniquely positioned to engage their students in authentic, place-based learning opportunities. As a teacher from Newport News remarked: “Once I knew it was [solar] on my school, I was totally invested.” Solar energy dashboards offer real-time production graphs with a variety of standards-aligned math, science, and technology applications; students can see how the weather out their window influences the amount of electricity generated in that moment.

Solar energy dashboards offer real-time production graphs with a variety of standards-aligned math, science, and technology applications.

As teachers returned to pre-school week, Sun Tribe will gave workshops for science and CTE educators at Newport News Public Schools, Chesterfield County Public Schools, and Henrico County Public Schools.

Teachers at a professional development workshop compare energy outputs when wiring solar circuits in series versus parallel.

CTE educators tour a Chesterfield County solar array and learn about career opportunities for their students.

CTE educators in Henrico County collaborate on the hands-on Solar Switch Challenge, an activity closely aligned with middle school Technology learning competencies.

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.

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Solar Empowered Schools’ mission is to help students shine through renewable energy education. Madison Energy Infrastructure manages Solar Empowered Schools to extend the benefits of solar energy beyond roofs and into classrooms, preparing students for STEM careers and empowering youth to actively participate in their clean energy future.