Solar Panels and STEM at Clinton High School

Published on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in Community

Solar Kits purchased with a Strengthening Schools Grant

STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math, refers to an academic focus that helps kids learn the hard sciences and gain critical thinking and problem-solving skills. As technology increasingly becomes a bigger part of our everyday lives, STEM programs provide a vital resource for students to gain experience and knowledge to excel in their future careers.

At Clinton High School, students can take a STEM class where they earn their grades by building and customizing robots and remote-controlled vehicles and then participating in competitions. The course helps prepare them for potential post-secondary education in engineering, technology, physics or other fields and some students even earn college credit as part of their coursework.

Students at Clinton High School practice with underwater robots
Clinton High School students test their aquatic robots in preparation for a SeaPerch competition, an integrated STEM program aimed at giving participants experience in real-world engineering and design. 

All of this hands-on learning requires hard work, dedication and a lot of electricity. That’s where our Strengthening Schools Grant comes into play. “We basically charge equipment and batteries 24/7,” said Ron Schaffner, science/math/STEM teacher at Clinton High School. “I want to try and help reduce the burden of this increased electric consumption for our district, and  solar power generation provides the perfect opportunity to do so.”

With funding from MEC, Schaffner purchased solar panel kits to mount on the engineering building’s roof and will use the energy generated to charge robots, batteries, laptops and a pool pump for the underwater robot practice pool. “There’s no way we could have purchased these items on our own. Additionally, the Strengthening Schools Grant has created a unique STEM opportunity for my students to study solar power,” he noted. In fact, the students have already begun their learning by creating proposals that recommended what they believed to be the best placement, location and design for the kits.

“I look forward to seeing the impact the kits have and what future opportunities solar power may create for my students and the district,” he concluded.

2021-2022 Applications

Now through Monday, Oct. 18, any teacher, administrator, or school official in a public elementary, middle or high school serving students in our electric service territory may apply for a grant of up to $2,500 to support classroom needs, technology, or academic projects/clubs/organizations. School districts can receive multiple grants, not to exceed a total of $5,000 for the award cycle and funds will be awarded in January 2022.

Funds are made possible through sponsorship dollars from our power supplier, Wolverine Power Cooperative, and winning grants are determined by a panel of MEC customers without the knowledge of the applying school or educator.

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