Learning Unlimited: Achieving a Solar Future
Posted 14/06/2017 09:00AM

One quiet morning our email inboxes were electrified by a heartwarming message coming to us all the way from Mkamenyi Primary School, located well off the beaten path in Kenya, about one hundred miles away from Mombasa, the nearest city. Shared by our “Week Without Walls” partners, the letter read, “On behalf of our pupils of Mkamenyi Primary School, teachers and parents I wish to express our appreciation to [you] for visiting our school…the visit made a huge impact...”

It was a note from Nicholas Mutui, Head Teacher at the school, sharing the impact of a recent volunteer service visit to his school by Grade 8 students from the Universal American School (UAS). The students had helped renovate the classroom floor, which provided a clean and safe environment for the primary school children. In addition, the group was joined by students from the UAS Million Solar Stars (MSS) initiative, who had worked to raise awareness and funds to power the distribution of 200 solar lights to the students and families there. The goal was to utilize solar lights for science and math lessons and enable kids to read and do homework at night.

"UAS’ provision of the 200 solar lights to all our upper grade pupils had a major impact on their academic performance this term…It has made learning very efficient as children now can study and can do homework while at their homes,” shared Nicholas, adding, “Within the one month after the distribution of the solar lights, the performance of the pupils at the school has already shown improvement…the solar lights have also lit up their homes!" The UAS MSS initiative, led by Adam Hall, Grade 8 Science Teacher, is also working to install solar power at Mkamenyi Primary School. “UAS students are helping lead a Million Solar Stars (MSS) initiative to raise awareness and expand solar power to schools in Dubai, Kenya, and around the world. The solar array at Mkamenyi will provide clean energy for the school and power to charge the 50 computers they are expecting soon through a Kenyan government program,” shared Adam. “Ultimately, MSS students are interested in helping facilitate additional schools in developed countries to partner with schools in developing countries to support and expand solar light learning.”

The MSS project encourages a real hands-on approach by the students involved, providing a platform for them to engage with solar power lessons inside classrooms and on campuses. Learners build solar light models, participate in solar challenges, and design, build and race solar model cars. MSS students practice leadership skills through raising awareness and support for solar power and engage school administrators and community members with presentations and multi-media productions. Additionally, students help analyze potential rooftop and ground mounted sites for solar power. MSS students have observed pilot solar array installations at schools in Denver, Colorado, Shanghai, China, and will soon observe a pilot solar array installation at UAS in Dubai. Once the pilot system is up and running, learners study and analyze solar monitoring data with science, math, and business lessons. Students then work with school administrators and community businesses to determine whether large scale solar arrays on their school make educational, environmental, and economic sense. Adam explains, “Million Solar Stars has had success expanding solar power to schools in Dubai, UAE, Shanghai, China, Denver, Colorado, USA, and Kenya. MSS has gained endorsement from renowned conservationist, Dr. Jane Goodall, Top 10 Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize, Mr. Stephen Ritz, and professional racecar driver Stefan Wilson. We are raising awareness and support to expand solar power at additional schools in the United States, UAE, Africa, China, Central America, and beyond.”

With the current energy challenges our world is facing due to the depletion of traditional fuel sources and the negative environmental consequences of their continued use, solar energy is a leading-edge clean energy solution to powering our world for future generations. By providing today’s learners with these real world interactions with solar technology, allowing them to explore the science behind it, and feel its immediate impact, as with the Mkamenyi students, Million Solar Stars is fueling a grassroots shift in thinking, enabling learners to experience the life-changing potential of harnessing the power of the sun, and the wide-ranging implications for our human race. Now, that’s how you effect true change.

To learn more, and get involved with your school, visit millionsolarstars.com.