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Leyden High Schools to Install Solar Panels for STEM Classes

Using grants from Cook County and a state nonprofit, a suburban Chicago school district is installing solar arrays on its campuses so students can learn about power generation and the photovoltaic process.

Solar Sunset
(TNS) — Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students of Leyden High School District 212 will be able in the early days of the new school year to learn firsthand about renewable energy during the district's "Solar Celebration" as new solar panels are installed at each campus.

STEM classes at West Leyden High School are scheduled to visit that school's solar panel space on Aug. 29. The next day, East Leyden High School STEM classes will be at that school's space, district officials announced in a news release.

"I am excited for the new opportunities that these solar panels will provide Leyden students for years to come," Frank Holthouse, SD212 director of careers and community outreach, said in the release.

The new school year starts Aug. 15.

Each school received a $6,400 grant from Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation to help have the solar panels installed on the individual campuses.

"Our mission is to improve energy efficiency, advance the development and use of renewable energy resources and protect natural areas and wildlife habitat in communities across Illinois," the foundation said on its website.

Additionally, the schools received $4,000 from the Cook County Department of Environment and Sustainability via the county's Solar Schools Grant program, which awarded funding to 24 public schools for education on how sunlight is converted into electricity.

Officials said in the release that the money covered the full cost of installing the solar arrays, and a 10-year maintenance fund was established to keep the panels running for years to come.

The foundation's K-12 Solar Schools program is an initiative done in partnership with Cook County.

"This program enables our young people to better understand the science behind renewable energy and to see that a career in renewable energy might be in the future," Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said in a news release announcing funding for the initiative.

The panels produce 1.4-kilowatts of electricity, officials said in the release. However, though it is a small amount of electricity compared to what the district actually consumes, officials said the intent is to expose students to the technology and a better understanding of sustainability.

"Now when students learn about renewable energy they will not just read chapters and complete labs, but they will now be able also to engage with commercial-grade solar panels," Holthouse said in the release.

Students will be able to track live data from each panel.

"This will provide students with the opportunity to engage with all that solar panels have to offer. From power generation analysis to learning the photovoltaic process, students will get to do it all," Holthouse said in the release.

©2022 Pioneer Press Newspapers (Suburban Chicago, Ill.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.