Approximately 530 students from more than 30 California school districts are planning to participate in this summer’s SunPower® Solar Energy Academy, an innovative work-based learning program provided by SunPower Corp., a global solar technology and energy services company.
In total, nearly 1,000 students and more than 110 teachers have participated since the summer academy was launched in 2012; there are nearly twice the numbers of students and districts enrolled in this year’s programs as participated last summer.
The project- and activity-based learning program is delivered over the course of one week in each participating region, immersing high school students in a solar-focused curriculum that emphasizes the real-world application of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Participating students and teachers work with industry professionals, and participate in learning laboratories and field trips to nearby solar system installations. The program concludes with student presentations to a panel of industry representatives, school board members, teachers and community leaders.
“As solar power plays an increasingly critical role in meeting global energy demand, students participating in the SunPower Solar Energy Academy may be the engineers and business leaders charting our energy future,” said Bill Kelly, SunPower vice president, Commercial Americas. “In the process of learning about solar technology and energy solutions, the students’ enthusiasm and ability to understand complex concepts is very inspiring. SunPower is proud of the increasing number of participants in the Solar Energy Academy program we attract each year.”
The 2016 summer schedule started this week with 36 students and teachers from Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) joining STEM instructors and solar professionals at Cabrillo College in Watsonville, Calif. to learn the engineering, design and economics of residential solar power systems.
“This is the third year we are offering this SunPower program to our students and staff, and we’re excited to get started,” said PVUSD Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Susan Perez. “The SunPower Solar Energy Academy brings relevant and real-life knowledge into the classroom, while preparing students for the challenges of the 21st century. We’re proud to support the development of our district’s young people with this valuable STEM curriculum during the summer months.”
Other Northern California school districts participating in this summer’s program include Antioch, Benicia, East Side Union, Fairfield-Suisun, Mount Diablo, Napa Valley, Oakland, Pittsburg, San Jose, San Rafael City, San Ramon Valley, Tamalpais Union,Travis, Vacaville, Vallejo, Novato and West Contra Costa. Participating Central Valley districts include Dinuba, Kern, Lindsay,Lemoore, Orosi and Porterville. In Southern California, school districts engaged in the program include Santa Ana,Colton, Fontana, Grossmont, Moreno Valley, Oxnard, Rialto and San Bernardino City. Several of these districts also participated in the program in previous years.
SunPower is a leader in delivering innovative energy solutions to California school districts. At 23 school districts across the state, the company has installed solar power systems totaling more than 90 megawatts which, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, generates the equivalent amount of power for 22,500 average California homes.
The SunPower Solar Energy Academy is one offering of the SunPower Horizons™ initiative, the company’s suite of educational programs that also includes project-based STEM curriculum delivered in partnership with Project Lead the Way, a provider of world-class STEM programs. Since 2008, SunPower’s educational programs have reached more than 13,500 students in the U.S.
In 2014, the Solar Foundation estimated that more than 3,700 K-12 schools in the U.S. have solar power systems on site, serving nearly 2.7 million students across the nation and saving about $77.8 million in electricity costs annually.