Crockett High School students studying solar energy along with representatives from Austin Energy and the Austin Independent School District cut the ribbon to the first of 15 interactive, outdoor Solar Learning Centers due for completion this year. Each learning center will be equipped with a fully functional solar array, seating for up to 30 students and three solar panels that can be rotated for interactive lessons on solar energy. Each center produces enough electricity to power a small, one-bedroom apartment.
Students in the three-year Crockett Construction Technology program are earning up to 28 college credits by studying several of the trades such as electrical, carpentry, plumbing and solar energy. The students will use this experience to install solar panels to supply clean, renewable energy from the sun to some of Crockett’s buildings.
The outdoor learning centers and curriculum development are made possible through a $450,000 grant awarded to Austin Energy from the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar America Cities program. The program involves partnerships with 25 large U.S. cities with the goal of developing comprehensive, city-wide approaches to increasing solar energy use. Austin was named one of the Solar America Cities in 2008.
Schools to receive solar learning centers besides Crockett include Akins High School, Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, Bowie High School, Burnet Middle School, Covington Middle School, Eastside Memorial High School, Lamar Middle School, McCallum High School, Mendez Middle School, Paredes Middle School, Pearce Middle School, Pleasant Hill Elementary/LHRC Annex, Reagan High School and Travis High School.