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Teachers learn about solar energy

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Krissy Martin, right, a facilitator for the Center for Energy Education, talks with Rocky Mount Prep third-grade teacher Yolanda Bailey, center, and Martin Millennium Academy reading tutor Linda DeLoatch as they work with radiometers Wednesday during the Teaching Tomorrow's Scientists workshop at Phillips Middle School.

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Several area teachers are being taught this week about solar energy and how to pass on that knowledge to students in the coming school year.

The teachers are taking part in training sessions that began on Tuesday and will end today at Phillips Middle School.

“We are offering these free sessions to help educate teachers so that they can teach students about renewable energy and solar farms,” said Mozine Lowe, executive director of the Center for Energy Education. “We hope that students will also see the benefits of pursuing careers in this new and growing industry.”

Lowe said this is the first year the training sessions are being held in the Twin Counties. For the past few years, the Center for Energy Education has offered sessions at their facility in Roanoke Rapids. However, this year, Phillips Middle School was chosen because it is near the location of a proposed more than 900-acre solar farm, called Fern Solar, that Geenex Solar hopes to build in the near future once approval is gained from Edgecombe County commissioners.

Jim Harris, manager of land development for Geenex Solar, spoke to teachers from Nash, Edgecombe and surrounding counties Tuesday about the solar farm industry. Geenex Solar shares close ties with the Center for Energy Education and is sponsoring the free education seminar for teachers as well as a free camp for students later in the summer.

“Renewable energy is the way of the future. We really focus on education because we want people to understand exactly what a solar farm is and what we do,” Harris said. “There is a lot of misinformation about solar farms and we want to clear that up and help people understand that we are good neighbors. Solar farms are safe, don’t produce any odors and are quiet. And we usually put up barriers around the farms to hide them from sight.”

The teachers who attended the event each were given a project kit filled with hands-on activities about solar energy. During the training session, the teachers were experimenting with the tools with child-like glee, an indication of the level of passion they plan to bring back to the classroom.

Michael Jones, a science teacher at Enfield Middle School, helped teach his colleagues about the contents of the kit. Jones learned about solar energy at an event hosted several years ago by N.C. State University and was asked to come back and share his knowledge in the summer training sessions, a role he has assumed ever since. Jones said he feels sessions like this are important.

“Passing on the knowledge we can about renewable energy is a win-win. Principals like it because it is bringing tech into the classroom. Teachers like it because it provides hands-on activities for the students. And students often learn better because of the hands-on experiments,” Jones said.

For middle school students who are interested in learning more about the topic, the Center for Energy Education is offering a free Renewable Energy Summer Camp on Aug. 2-3. Though the camp will be held in Roanoke Rapids, students can be dropped off and picked up at Phillips Middle School. Lowes said spaces in the free camp are still available.

For more information about the camp or the Center for Energy Education, go to center4ee.org or call 252-541-3004.

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