George Freeman School EcoClub talks renewable energy

The George Freeman School EcoClub hosted an open house on Oct. 25 to show off and talk about their off-grid energy project.

Having taken place over the school’s lunch hour, those who attended were given an opportunity to see and learn about the school’s newly installed wind turbine, solar panel, and LED system hooked up to their storage shed.

“We have finished a really cool EcoClub project where we have created a sustainable off-grid energy system on our school garage to help us answer if solar or wind energy is better for Strathmore,” said Jill McDonald, associate principal of George Freeman School. “We (invited) the community to come and join us and learn about our project and learn about sustainable energy from the students who worked on the project.”

The project, which has been on the go at the school for over a year, began following an inquiry from a curious student wondering which source of energy, wind or solar, was effectively more beneficial to Strathmore.

McDonald explained she told the student she was unable to answer the question accurately and thus the project was created as an exercise to facilitate and augment the students’ learning.

During the open house event, the students had set up multiple stations to show off and explain their learning about the project so far, as well as to talk about their initial data since the system came online.

“We (talked) to people about what we have been doing so far. We have been doing construction and research,” said Piper Cloling (10) who spoke on behalf of her fellow students involved in the project.

“We have been recording the amount of energy we get from the solar panel and the wind turbine, and we have learned the results are not always the same day-to-day.”

According to McDonald, the project was completely grant funded from two different sources, totalling $10,000.

Since the launch of the system earlier this month, the students have been monitoring the first incoming results and collecting a small sample of preliminary data.

Over the course of the school year, the students will continue to monitor the system and increase the sample size of their data, eventually drawing their own conclusion as to which energy source best suits their location.

“We will be able to see if more data will give us a better answer, or if what we got over this first week is the answer that we will keep at the end of this year,” said McDonald. “Once we have a little bit more data, we will probably put stuff up on our school social media and share it that way.”

The renewable energy project is one of three environmental stewardship projects the EcoClub will be undertaking this year. The other two will involve compost and recycling and will involve consulting the local community about different sources for energy.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times