Article by: Rom Villarica

From hydroponic dams to wind farms, renewable energy is quickly becoming more popular in modern society.  As a clean, unlimited source of power, renewable energy is an environmentally sustainable alternative to more pollution-heavy energy sources such as coal and fossil fuels.  However, though it may appear that the best thing to do would be to immediately switch the world to use renewable energy sources, it is not that simple.  In fact, the difficulties of utilizing one particular renewable energy source, solar power, were made prominent just earlier this week.

On Monday, in lieu of having regular classes, all seniors in Chemistry and Physics IB classes took part in an activity orchestrated by the teachers and a representative from a solar power organization.  In the morning, the representative from the organization put together a presentation that briefed the students with the basics of solar energy. He began discussing the different uses of solar panels as well as how to optimize the positioning of the panels in order to produce the most power.  He also presented the students with sample calculations to determine the size of solar panel needed to power a variety of household appliance and concluded with an explanation on the way solar panels network with a series of other devices to store the power gathered.

Subsequently, the seniors were divided into groups, with each group containing at least one student from Chemistry and one from Physics.  These groups then met together in the Science classrooms and began the “planning” stage of the activity, wherein they were required to identify an ICARE site that could best benefit from the addition of solar panels.  After choosing a site, they made a list of all the amenities the place could possibly require and isolated one or two feasible options to be implemented as part of a project.

In the afternoon, time was spent performing the necessary calculations to determine the cost of the project.  Students were tasked with creating a video to present their findings, upon completion sharing the video with their peers on Google Drive, which concluded the activity.

Although some students may have been slightly disgruntled in missing their IB classes and thus falling slightly behind in a very busy year, it is undeniable that the activity offered irreplaceable benefits.  With regards to the day’s proceedings, physics student Lucas Ramos held a generally positive opinion.  He believes that “the [activity] was a good thought experiment, allowing us to make use of what we had learned in our classes.  It allowed us to be creative and apply our knowledge to a real-world scenario.”

The solar power activity, overall, proved to be beneficial in educating students about the difficulties and benefits inherent in the use of solar panels while also providing opportunities for the students to employ their ingenuity in finding innovative solutions to real problems.

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