Posted: Thursday, November 20, 2014

Roper Mountain Science Center Goes Solar with New Installation

Representatives from Roper Mountain Science Center Association, Greenville County Schools, Duke Energy and Palmetto Clean Energy (PaCE), and Lockheed Martin “flipped the switch” today on the Center’s new array of 84 solar panels and an education exhibit that will be used for hands-on learning.

RMSC is one of eight schools or centers in South Carolina to receive funding from PaCE’s Solar Matching Grant program. The solar panel project was made possible through the grant as well as matching funds from Greenville County Schools and Roper Mountain Science Center Association. Lockheed Martin contributed $20,000 to finalize funding for the project.

The impressive array of solar panels has been installed on the rooftop of Symmes Hall of Science, and a dashboard inside monitors energy generation and consumption. Power from the 25-kW rooftop solar installation will be sold to Duke Energy Carolinas.

The educational components feature a small weather station, a data-monitoring dashboard display for direct onsite public and student interaction, and an outdoor interactive, solar-powered exhibit for direct hands-on experience. In addition, the energy monitoring system by DECK Monitoring provides a web-based system allowing remote access to data from the installation.

“This effort began more than a year ago when Palmetto Clean Energy launched a solar matching grant program. The program’s objectives are simple – to help schools and educational institutions take advantage of solar technology by assisting with upfront technology costs. Duke Energy was pleased to contribute the funds to PaCE and very pleased that PaCE chose Roper Mountain. We believe the center’s efforts will help educate our young leaders of tomorrow about the importance of renewable energy,” said Emily Felt, Wholesale Renewable Manager, Duke Energy/PaCE.

Joey Sullivan, President of Roper Mountain Science Center Association, said, “The Association was pleased to initiate the grant proposal and proud to support it with matching funds. Now, we are thrilled to see it come to life for our students to experience solar energy.”

“This unique educational asset will give students and visitors the opportunity to be inspired by renewable energy technologies. We are very excited to be able to use the solar panels as an engaging component of our new sixth grade labs, requiring students to think critically about energy in our world,” said Val Mosher, STEM Specialist at Roper Mountain Science Center.

“We are very pleased to add Roper Mountain’s solar panels and educational learning center to our growing list of project-based teaching and learning offerings in STEM - science, technology, engineering, and math. Thousands of students from across the Upstate will have opportunities that will spark their interest in the technology behind solar energy as well as explore careers of the future in renewable energy,” said Superintendent W. Burke Royster.

Students and teachers will have many opportunities to use the system.

  • Fourth graders will explore electricity, energy transformation, weather, and light and heat labs.
  • Sixth graders will directly connect the subjects of energy, renewable energy, and energy transformation as well as use the data directly in their analysis from the panels on the day of their visit.
  • Third through fifth graders in the Center’s after-school program will monitor the daily changes in energy output and receive hands-on interaction with the monitoring system.
  • More than 300 teachers from across South Carolina attending the Science PLUS professional development program next summer will learn how to use the data collected through the web-based platform.
  • Students and visitors will have opportunities to learn about renewable energy technology.

This exciting new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) project enables RMSC to connect more than 50,000 students, 6,000 teachers and over 15,000 members of the public annually to learn about how sunlight can be transformed into renewable energy and to see solar energy technology at work first-hand.

ABOUT PALMETTO CLEAN ENERGY:
Funding for this project was provided, in part, by Palmetto Clean Energy, Inc., a South Carolina non-profit corporation formed for the purpose of encouraging the development of renewable energy technologies and encouraging the production of renewable energy in South Carolina.

ABOUT ROPER MOUNTAIN SCIENCE CENTER:
Roper Mountain Science Center, uniquely positioned as a public-private partnership, delivers curriculum-based, hands-on learning in sciences and social studies for elementary and middle school students; offers inspiring “edutainment” for the public with Starry Nights, Second Saturdays and other special events; and produces state-of-the-art training for teachers. Each year, more than 50,000 students, 6,000 teachers and 100,000 families and adults visit Roper Mountain Science Center, so the reach into the community is wide.
Each school day, 400-600 students from Greenville’s public, private and home schools visit the Science Center, free of charge, to engage in real-world, interactive experiential learning labs. Schools from surrounding school districts and neighboring states send students here for memorable field trips. Teachers from every district in the state have attended the intense Science PLUS Institute, workshops or mini-courses.


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