GREAT FALLS – Tenth-grader James Courchane’s experience with solar panels had been minimal until this year. Now he knows a thing or two about them. Things such as, when used correctly, they can make a pretty awesome car.
“Kind of just used light sources to move the cars and go places and do this and jump off tables.”
But while it might look like fun and games, science teacher April Senger says the solar panels provide Courchane and his classmates valuable learning opportunities.
Great Falls High School installed 72 solar panels on their south campus roof back in September 2012, after a three-and-a-half year long process.
“Our classrooms look out onto this rooftop and we decided it was some usable space that the school had and we started looking into some of the grants available in the community and students actually helped me spearhead finding those grants and writing for the funding.”
Since then, students have not only learned about the science behind the panels, but also how the school’s solar system is constructed.
Senior Brandan Billiel says the solar panels sit “at a ten degree angle so that when the wind comes up, it pushes it down and it’s not going to push it anywhere and there’s a wind foil on the back to do the same thing. So whichever way the wind’s coming, it’ll push it down and keep it on the roof.
Industrial technology teacher Dan Wilkins says the the knowledge learned now can be used in the future.
“Much of what we study, the kilowatts, the volts, the amps, ohms of resistance, kilowatt hours, ampacity of wire size and that sort of thing can be transferred to any electrical field.”
But for now, learning about the panels means spinning some wheels.
The solars panels have saved around $2,940 in energy cost savings since their installation.