Solar power inspiring the next generation
June 13, 2019
Children from an Alice Springs school have been learning about why their local environment is ideal for producing solar power.
The group of about 70 year sevens from Centralian Middle School took part in one of four packages available through the Edu-Tourism program, coordinated by Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA).
Their excursion was funded by the Intyalheme Centre for Future Energy, a flagship project of DKA, aimed at helping the Northern Territory achieve 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
Intyalheme wanted to inspire children to understand how solar power is produced, and perhaps consider a career in the industry.
Engineers from local technical consultancy Ekistica explained renewable and non-renewable sources of energy to the students, who then built their own solar grasshoppers, and tested them in the sunshine.
The second half of the session was spent at the DKA Solar Centre, a demonstration facility that monitors real-life performance of a wide range of solar photovoltaic technologies.
12-year-old Shila Salei said she was “impressed” to learn the Solar Centre produces about 40 per cent of the energy used at the Desert Knowledge Precinct. Meanwhile, 11-year-old Daniel Briggs was particularly taken by the tracking arrays.
“I liked making the grasshoppers, and learning how the solar panels work, especially looking at the ones that track the sun,” he said.
12-year-old Brandy Loechte was one of the winners of the “solar bingo” competition. She was thrilled to discover the unique facility in Alice Springs.
“I saw the gates to come here but I never knew what this place was until today,” said Brandy.
“It’s pretty cool because there are a lot of solar panels everywhere, and it’s good because there’s a ton of sun here which makes this place special.”
CMS students with Ekistica engineer Shalini Ganji and Intyalheme General Manager Glenn Marshall
Year Seven teacher Mikaila Mangohig said it was important to expose students to career options they might not otherwise be aware of.
“Understanding the difference between renewable and non-renewable resources is a part of the Year Seven science curriculum, and the engineers from Ekistica did a great job explaining this,” Ms Mangohig said.
“It was great for students to learn in a hands-on environment what solar power is and how the different components work together to get energy from the sun to our power points.”
In addition to the Solar Centre package, the Desert Knowledge Precinct Edu-Tourism Program also engages STEM professionals from the Centre for Appropriate Technology to deliver a session on supporting remote communities.
There is also an experience available with Geoscience Australia, where students learn about satellites and how to fly drones; and a hands-on Country and Culture experience, designed with Batchelor Institute. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.