Students get hands on with renewable energy at Knox County R-1

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Tri-State students are getting first-hand experience in green energy. If you’ve driven past Knox County R-1 Schools recently you’ve probably seen new solar panels on the front lawn, which teachers say students helped install.

School administrators said installing the solar panel array is a unique way for students to get real-world experience, and an opportunity for the schools to explore green options they might use more in the future.

“I had a little experience in the past with installing solar panels […] and I already had a electronics class here at Knox County, and I thought this would be a great opportunity for the kids to see kinda what goes into it,” said High School Industrial Tech teacher Rich Green.

He said that’s why he pushed for students to help install, wire, and even monitor these panels.

They wired the power from the solar panels powers a animated sign and traffic light in front of the school, and they can monitor the panels’ performance live in class.

“I just try to give the students as much real-world experience as we can,” said Green.

Students who helped install these solar panels said it was an educational experience in multiple different ways.

“[First we put up] the rails where we put the solar panels on, then after that we made sure it was good and sturdy and worked on putting the panels up with a few of the trucks because they’re pretty high up there,” said Senior Calvin McCarty describing the installation process.

He said putting the panels together has definitely got him more interested in renewable energy.

“It’s pretty awesome because it shows like you saved 8 trees, which is a huge amount of carbon dioxide out of the air, and I think it’s awesome you can save so much with just six panels,” said McCarty.

A field Green said is rapidly growing in Missouri.

“They may decide that hey, I kinda enjoy installing solar panels, I might kinda brush up on this after school, take a few classes at a two-year school and go on to work in the solar field,” said Green.

School administrators said they’re considering adding more solar panels to power the bus barn and green house as well.

Green said the cost of these panels was around $4,000, and the savings from running them are expected to pay for the equipment in 9-10 years.

Frank Healy

Frank Healy

Multimedia Journalist at WGEM

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