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T3 Alaska Program

T3 Alaska Energy Club Hosted “Intro to Solar Energy”

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Even on a personal scale, the shift to renewable energy can seem daunting. By simply starting with a growth mindset, some enthusiastic instructors, and a few tools, students can quickly gain the understanding to help this transition along.

Early in April, 20 high school students from around the State of Alaska attended a two-day Solar Energy Basics workshop in Anchorage, where they learned how to harness the sun to power loads in their homes, camps, and communities. The workshop was filled with phrases like, “This could get interesting,” and “I’m not sure what’s going to happen here.”

“We want students to have fun, be safe, and learn how to work with these systems,” said Chandler Kemp, one of the workshop’s instructors from UAF’s Bristol Bay Campus.

In the first session, Tyler Katzmar from the Renewable Energy Alaska Project (REAP) led students through a solar explorer lab – a hands-on series of activities that allow students to discover factors that impact solar energy. Students were given multimeters, small solar panels, and a variety of loads and tasked with measuring the voltage and current with various lighting configurations. “It was very cool,” said Katzmar. “When they tried to power a larger load, some students wired several solar panels together in series. The students were hooked!”

Things only got more exciting and interesting from the first session. Students went deeper into the realm of electrical concepts such as voltage, current, resistance, and power through demonstrations and scenarios. They saw how grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) systems work, and had to build stand-alone power systems that utilized solar panels, charge controllers, and batteries.

Chris Pike from ACEP’s Solar Research team seemed to be having as much fun as the students. Especially when it came to demonstrations, Chris was eager to don his safety glasses and insulated gloves. He showed students what can happen when you short-circuit a battery, increase the resistance in a circuit, and even how to make a better contact when soldering.

The training was the latest opportunity for students working with the Teaching Through Technology or T3 Energy Club and included one UA credit towards their Occupational Endorsement in Sustainable Energy. The event was hosted in partnership with the Alaska Center for Energy and Power, UAF Upward Bound Program, T3 Alaska Program, and Sustainable Energy Program at the UAF Bristol Bay campus, with additional support from the Office of Naval Research.

The Alaska Regional Collaboration for Technology Innovation and Commercialization Program supports Alaska’s next generation of leaders through educational programs, like Teaching Through Technology. For more information about the T3 Energy Club, contact George Reising, gbskrabareising@alaska.edu.

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