Solar panels being studied at Isabella

Published 10:39 pm Thursday, January 14, 2010

Isabella science students are working on a project that may save energy, and taxpayers’ money in the process.

Five solar panels were installed on top of the elementary building Wednesday.

The panels are connected to a device that converts solar energy into power. Over the next year, students will monitor the equipment to see if it is saving money.

The project was funded by a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission and awarded through the Waste Reduction and Technology Transfer Foundation. The amount was between $6,000 and $7,000.

Isabella is one of only two schools in Alabama that received the grant.

“We will compare the cost of the panels versus the amount of energy we’re producing and see what kind of savings it will produce,” Isabella science instructor Jay LeCroy said. “This is science, technology and economics, too.”

Information is transmitted from the solar panels to a Web site, which reports how much energy is produced. The hypothesis is that solar panels are economically sound as an alternative energy source.

All science classes taught by LeCroy will have some component of alternative energies, he said. The curriculum is included in the grant.

“Within a decade, these students will be building houses of their own,” LeCroy said. “A lot of these kids may be contractors themselves. I want to give them information that will benefit them economically.”

Students seem to like the idea. Isabella senior Sean Haigler showed interest in the money-saving aspect of solar power.

“The science program is really great because it helps introduce students to different fields such as engineering,” said Keela Ray.

Next year’s GEMS group (Girls Engaged in Math and Science) will present the project at the state science fair in Birmingham.

LeCroy invites anyone who is interested to stop by and ask questions.