The Science of Solar and Space

Danny Stock

Over at the High School, Chris Oster’s Energy and Resources class capped off their discussion of solar panels this week with a trip to the roof. They’ve been studying the photoelectric effect, semiconductors, transistors, and inverting current. When rain washed out their outdoor plans last week, they toured the GDS electrical room to see the inverters and control switches. Finally, under blue skies, they had the chance to get an up-close look at the High School building’s 609-panel array and caught a glimpse of the large solar arrays located across the street on our new Lower/Middle School building.

A bit closer to campus than the sun—how much closer?—6th graders headed out under those same clear skies to map the layers of the Earth and the highest things in space. Running back and forth along the 42nd street sidewalk with a “giant pizza cutter” (a surveyor’s wheel), students represented scale distances between the Earth’s core, crust, and mantle as well as trenches, tallest buildings, upper atmosphere heights, the International Space Station, and the current location of the James Webb Space Telescope. Seeing their energy in this hands-on learning activity, you’d think they were supercharged on solar energy. 

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