Powered by the Sun - January 28

Grade 4 students got hands-on experience with solar power recently, each student taking their project all the way from concept through fully powered by the sun.

Here’s what I learned from Grade 4 teacher Jake Strother.

“Jobs in the future are problem-solving based.

We all need to know how to relearn things and fix things.” This project was to get the kids problem-solving experience while they learn about science, engineering, and the use of renewable technology.

The problem: one day, fossil fuel will run out. So what do we do? What will we replace that with?

That’s the big question Strother posed to his students for this projects. While there are many different types of renewable energy, they focused on solar power.

He challenged the kids to think of something in the world that used fossil fuels and make that their project. First they had to make a blueprint of what they wanted to do. Then they had to make a list of supplies, draw the design, and finally make a proposal for the teachers. Once Mr. Strother approved it, they began to build.

The project culminated not only in the final project that was built correctly and actually worked, but the kids also had to make presentations on their project and about solar energy, noting two positives and two negatives of solar power.

“They did a lot of figuring it out on their own,” Strother commented, noting how students collaborated well with one another.

“Kids don’t remember through giving them the answer. Kids remember through the toil.” “If you do it for them, there’s nothing for them to be proud of. But if they’re able to do it themselves they’re usually really proud of it and it’s a meaningful experience for them,” Strother noted.

In the end, the projects – which ranged from elevators and aircraft carriers to boats and wheeled vehicles – worked!

As a parent of a 4th grader, I was so surprised that MY son did THAT. The sunny patio off the 4th grade classroom was buzzing with other proud parents like me who were equally impressed with what their kids had done.

Strother loves this project and improves upon every year to make the learning experiences even better for the students. “Students love it,” he commented, and “it sticks with them for a long time.”

We love it, too. Thank you Mr. Strother, Ms. Huang, and all you brilliant 4th graders!

January 29, 2021
By Rebecca Franks