The Lab

The complete STEM Solar Lab™ consists of the physical solar array and the curriculum that accompanies the solar array and supporting professional development for teachers. The STEM Solar Lab (SSL) here is an above-ground mounted, 2 kW, eight panel cluster of solar panels that is connected to each school’s electrical system, and the local utility grid. Each system generates approximately 2,320 kWh of electricity annually in New England. Each system is equipped with an Enphase Enlighten data monitoring system that provides each school with online, real time, electricity production data for use with the SSL curriculum.

THE STEPS IN ACQUIRING AN SSL ARE

  1. Suitability Review
  2. Installation
  3. Professional Development
  4. Assessment Assistance

Suitability Review: In order for a school to receive an SSL at little cost, a contract between the SSL owner (Hyperion Systems/Diversified Construction) and the school is created. Both the school – administrators, teachers, facilities – and SSL need to agree that the physical environment works and that the accompanying curriculum “fits”, or excites, the teaching staff. Upon review of the contract and any needed adjustments, the SSL project moves forward.

Installation: The SSL Installation Team visits each school, completes an initial analysis of the site, electricity interconnections and critical physical variables. In order to receive the full potential of the SSL, it has to be set at the right exposure; contain no shading, and be located in a safe area. Engineering is the next step that will be completed by one of DCS’s staff members, and lastly DCS will construct the SSL and wire it to the schools electrical system. Diversified and the school each have responsibilities to keep the SSL running optimally. Diversified Construction and the STEM Team provide schools with installation support, training and development services based on the contract with each school. Each school have responsibility for coordinating technology, supporting teacher involvement and basic reporting of physical issues – e.g., offline.

Professional Development: As part of implementing the SSL, teachers participate in professional development to ease integration of the SSL lessons into their existing curriculum. A myriad of educational activities take place inside the Lab. Professional development, curriculum creation with SSL staff and learning through a range of solar activities – e.g., comparing electricity readings with cloud patterns, measuring solar production with batteries are happening every day.

Assessment Review:  A STEM team member will be assigned to help you through professional development and assist in guiding the assessment procedure of the curriculum throughout the year. Due to the researched based curriculum, the assessment process is critical to improvement.