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Ministry of Education.
Kaua e rangiruatia te hāpai o te hoe; e kore tō tātou waka e ū ki uta

Renewable energy: Solar panels for special education

Year 13 students embraced an opportunity to work alongside the special education centre.

Duration: 04:30


Jacky: So our special education centre has twenty six students, ranging in age from thirteen to twenty one. The renewable energy project has been a great project for our centre to be involved in. We elected two energy champions at the start, so that they could be involved in the process and ask questions about the solar panels and the impact that it might have on our centre. They sat in on all the meetings that we had with Marco and Hamish. And some of the questions that our students had were cost – and would it help run our spa actually – was one of the first questions that they wanted to know, would that save on that cost. They also had questions like if the solar panels were hit by lightning, what effect would that have on the solar panels? They also wanted to know where the inverter would be within the building and were quite concerned that it was placed in a position that some of our more vulnerable students wouldn’t have access to it. They then were charged with presenting back to the rest of the students and staff at the centre.

Marco: Dealing with the children themselves directly would have been a hassle because they’ve got, they’ve got a lot of activities they have to do because they have a very special curriculum over there. So we had to like, consult the teachers ...

Hamish: Yeah, we had to organise meetings and consult with the main teachers and then, that's why Katie and Matthew were identified as the energy champions so that they could be the ones that were taken out and helped us, basically worked together, to produce the final handover.       

Marco: For our monitoring ... 

Hamish: Yep.

Marco: It's sustainibility through practice and it has to be able to be monitorable.

Hamish: Yep.

Marco: So what we had to do was make a website.

Hamish: We had to look at seeing how efficient our system said it was and how efficient our system actually was.

Marco: What it does, is it tells us exactly how much we are producing, how much we’ve saved, how much it's making right now. It's a continuate, it updates every ten minutes and it sends emails to the school weekly. We got them the app on the ipads because the each have an ipad in their cabinet. So we got that app on the ipads, and they learnt about it. And when we went over there yesterday to do our final presentation, which was the official handover to them, to the energy champions, they were showing their peers how to install the app, how to read it, what it did. Just being able to see the spikes, all the curves and the days and stuff, they're really excited about it and because like remember when we were saying like about how much power we made. They all were saying we'd made one Watt and like a hundred Watts or something and stuff. And they're just, they're flabbergasted when we tell them what they actually made.

Hamish: Yep.

Marco: We had a lot of consultations with their teachers about a learning resource for them.

Hamish: Because we had to make it as interactive and enjoyable for them as possible. After we went through how solar panels work, we managed to get a little science kit, which had a ...

Marco: Which one of the teachers over there had originally brought for the kids. But because it was a bit, techy we re-wired it – because the way it was, was quite difficult.

Hamish: The way it was, was you could only run everything if you ran it all off the battery, which would leave the solar panel side of it completely obsolete.

Marco: Useless. It's a representation to show them exactly what's going on. So you turn on a little switch, the solar power, the panel, powers the fan but nothing else so it powers certain things and then the battery, which is the grid, supplies all the rest of our needs.

Hamish: Yeah.

Marco: That's what it is, so … like when you're explaining that to them, there were like, you know, they understood a lot better.

Jacky: We’re always looking for meaningful opportunities to link with the main school and this has been a really authentic learning opportunity for our students and we now hope that they will take some of that learning home and look at ways that they can conserve energy in their home and in the community.  

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