HOUTZDALE – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has awarded a $3,000 grant to Moshannon Valley Junior-Senior High School to integrate solar power technology into classroom learning for students.
The grant comes as part of a total of $205,000 in Environmental Education grants that funded 45 renewable energy projects across the state addressing environmental justice, climate change and water quality initiatives.
According to MVHS Principal Kris Albright, Mo Valley will use the funds to install a solar powered heating system into its existing school greenhouse to expand learning opportunities for students.
“By integrating a solar-powered system to maintain a stable temperature, our students will benefit from being able to prolong the growing season into the later fall months in addition to being able to start growing earlier into the Spring months, when outside temperatures are not conducive to things being planted in the ground,” said Albright.
“Unfortunately, in our area we have such a short opportunity to connect students during the school year to growing because of the seasonal changes so this system will extend our capabilities by a few months.”
DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell applauded the school’s application. “Environmental education efforts like yours help to further our mission to improve all Pennsylvanians’ environmental literacy, preparing them to make wise decisions and take positive action on behalf of the environment.
“The conservation of the Commonwealth’s resources for future generations depends on the effectiveness of these efforts.”
Albright agreed with McDonnell, stating, “exposing students to the process of harnessing the sun to generate power and heat will be a valuable learning experience for the students.
“We want everyone to be good stewards of our resources and hopefully this project will encourage them to pursue environmentally-friendly practices throughout their life.”
Albright explained that the project will involve installing solar panels to collect the sun’s energy, which will be stored in batteries and then converted to power, which will run a small heater when temperatures drop below a certain point in the greenhouse.
“The district is excited about the prospect of adding solar power to our greenhouse. Sustainable energy and being energy conscious drove our 2018 designation as an Energy Star Certified School District.
“In addition, STEM education exceeds the classroom setting, it integrates into the community and our Greenhouse project is another opportunity to expose Moshannon Valley students to the value of education,” said District Superintendent Dr. John W. Zesiger.
Albright explained that the goal is to involve students directly in the process so they can see firsthand how solar technology can be utilized.
“We want students to be provided with hands-on learning experiences and interact with this system not just in their Science classes but work in a cross-curricular environment and have learning opportunities blend into our content areas.”
He noted that when school resumes teachers from Science, Social Studies and Technology Education will be collaborating on ways to integrate this new learning into their curriculums.
Each year, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection invests in education, county conservation districts and other nonprofit organizations to improve environmental awareness.
DEP’s Environmental Education grant program was established in 1993 and mandates that a percentage of all pollution fines and penalties collected by the organization be set aside for educational programs.
Since its inception of the environmental education grant program, DEP has awarded more than $10 million in funding to support environmental education efforts throughout the state.
“Supporting these projects will provide children and adults in urban, rural and suburban communities with knowledge of the natural world, the importance of a healthy environment and the value of environmental protection,” said McDonnell.