Montgomery County’s Departments of General Services (DGS) and Environmental Protection (DEP) are partnering to educate school children about the importance of solar and other forms of renewable energy. Shifting energy use to renewable energy, in concert with energy efficiency, is essential to reducing the impacts of a changing climate. Leading by example, Montgomery County Government has installed 7.6 megawatts of solar on 15 public facilities, including recreation centers, libraries, fire stations, office buildings and more, producing enough clean energy to power over 800 homes and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by over 7,400 metric tons per year.
The solar arrays at our County facilities are real-life examples to introduce children to the idea of sustainability and living green early on. Recently groups of first and fourth graders from the Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, a school for girls in Bethesda, Maryland, took field trips to Holiday Park Senior Center to learn about solar energy.
The students were able to see the solar panels up close, especially those mounted on parking lot canopies, while learning about the benefits that solar energy provides. Previous field trips have included talks about what electricity is and where it comes from, how solar panels work, and the importance of solar and other renewable energy, as well as why the County installs solar arrays on public facilities. The children have also assembled solar powered cars and fans on-site for a hands-on demonstration of how solar panels work in action.
The students have shown great interest and excitement in sustainability and how clean energy is used and can become part of their daily lives. Educating children at an early age will lead to more energy conscious adults who will make decisions that preserve and protect the environment. When asked what they could do to save energy, many of the children mentioned turning out the lights and taking shorter showers. Without prompts they clearly understand that every sustainability effort, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction. “The students got a real-world experience beyond the classroom, a better understanding of renewable energy, as well as a chance to connect to the local community; it was a fantastic experience for them”, said Beatrice, the school’s science teacher.