Oberstufenzentrum Egelsee, Kreuzlingen, Switzerland
The sun stirs the clouds and the wind. But as GLOBE students in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland are learning firsthand, it also has the power to light the night and run computers.
Students at the GLOBE school Oberstufenzentrum Egelsee, with help from students from a nearby technical institute, recently installed 90 solar panels on the school rooftop.
The solar panels, which convert rays of the sun into electricity, will contribute about 10,000 kilowatt-hours of power. That will supply about 5% of the school's electrical needs. In time, the school will publicize exactly how much of their electricity is generated by the sun.
"This is a good way to produce electricity because we will burn less petroleum for heating, which means we'll produce less CO2 and won't heat up the atmosphere as much," one of the Swiss GLOBE students said.
Erhard Eglin, a GLOBE teacher at the school, developed the solar project. Before the panels could be installed, Eglin required his students to research solar energy. Students learned about how energy from the sun is converted to electric power, about other ways to save electricity, and about the technical requirements of installing and using solar panels.
The project has produced a flood of scientific curiosity, Eglin said. He has heard questions such as "Is our school now buying less electricity from the power plant? What happens in winter, when it's foggy? Or when it's cloudy?"
Besides giving the students practical experience in installing the panels and understanding how sunlight is changed into electricity, the project also motivated the students to think about the climate and climate change, Eglin said. Many also have said they would like to study electrical engineering.
"The students are now very motivated to get data in the GLOBE program to study changes in the environment," he said.
The project could inspire other Swiss schools to follow suit, according to GLOBE Country Coordinator Ruedi Schluep.
"We are very happy that the school authority of Kreuzlingen is playing a leadership role in promoting solar energy. Many more school roof tops are suitable for the installation of solar panels, " said Schluep.
"We invite the authorities of other schools to follow the good example of Kreuzlingen in investing in solar energy," he added. The Oberstufenzentrum Egelsee activity shows the possibility of synergies with the curriculum."