Otamatea High School is set to be energised with a 10kw solar array that will generate power for the school and provide new learning opportunities for kids.
The school applied for the solar kit from Genesis Energy’s School-Gen Trust after identifying the opportunity to use it for a cross curricular course, deputy principal Dirk Smyth says.
“We are very lucky to have three teachers with a background in physics at a time when they are in demand in Northland. One of them even did his university thesis on solar panels, so we knew we could create a programme around it.
“Aside from the solar energy it will generate, it will also give us access to data which kids will be able to record and we hope to create a learning platform that will include science, maths, and technology.”
The school surveyed parents and community members on what they thought the school needed and the response showed a lot of support for solar panels, Mr Smyth says.
He said the solar panel project is part of a new emphasis at the school on cross-curricular programmes that would include practical learning across a number of different subjects.
“For example, we have one called Planes, Trains, and Automobiles that will see kids doing maths and science as well as looking at the history of inventors all in the one programme.”
Otamatea will also be able to compare their generation data with a network of 92 schools around New Zealand that have received a solar panel kit from Genesis Energy’s School-Gen Trust in the past.
This year, more than 400 schools applied for STEM packages from the Trust, but only Otamatea was selected to receive the solar panels.
Genesis School-Gen Trust chair Lee Mauger says Otamatea High School’s interest in wanting to involve and educate the community on the importance of renewable energy made its application stand out.
“We saw in Otamatea’s application a real desire to engage in learning that would be relevant to the students’ lives and their communities. We also liked their focus on engaging more girls and Māori in STEM subjects.”
A technician will visit the school to determine exactly what equipment it will receive.