Teachers at Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School Prepare for a Renewables-Themed Year

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Engaging students in interdisciplinary, real-world projects is a core value at Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School (CBGS). This year, students will investigate the complex themes of renewable energy technology, policy, and impact throughout the entire academic year.

To kick off their school year, all CBGS students will take a field trip to the ground-mounted solar array at Cople Elementary School. The solar site, developed by Sun Tribe Solar, is the first Gold-Certified Pollinator Smart solar site in Virginia. Native, pollinator-friendly species of flowers are planted between the solar panels instead of turf grass to support local pollinator species. Cople Elementary School’s solar is a great example of how the value of renewable energy can extend beyond electrons to deliver financial savings, environmental benefits, and educational opportunities to the local community.

Bees find a happy home near Cople Elementary School, VA's first Gold-Certified Pollinator-Friendly Solar Site

To prepare for their renewable-themed year, teachers from CBGS participated in a pre-service professional development workshop about solar energy hosted by Solar Empowered Schools. The session began with an overview of the solar schools in the counties that CBGS serves, including Middlesex, King William, and Westmoreland Counties. One of the teachers, whose son attended Middlesex High School, shared a personal connection: her son did a project about solar energy, and the research they did together propelled her into a stronger proponent of local solar energy.

During the workshop teachers also explored a variety of interactive, hands-on STEM activities and lessons. A crowd favorite was a kinesthetic simulation of how a solar panel works which involved throwing excited electrons (ping pong balls) along a circuit (line of people) to light a load (flashlight). Other teachers were excited to learn about energy experiments directly connected to their math and science curriculum.

Many teachers started to collaborate on the spot, discussing ways their classes could work together on solar and wind energy projects. Teachers also identified renewable energy a perfect topic for Senior Independent Research Projects due to its complexity, relevance, and availability of local examples.

The Director of CBGS, Jason Strong, expressed his appreciation for the training session. “Just wanted to take a moment again to express my gratitude for a well-designed experience that filled our staff with ambition and ideas for the future. You really helped set the stage for the rest of the day (and the rest of the year)!” With this level of thought, expertise, and energy, there is no limit to what CBGS teachers and students can do this year for their community (and beyond!). Stay tuned.

Photo credit: Garrett Davidson (classroom) and Dr. Doug DeBerry (bees)