Print

School Power Naturally

Solar panels on school roof
Solar panels on school roof

School Power...NaturallySM is an innovative program from NYSERDA that is designed to educate New Yorkers about energy, and, in particular, the role solar electric power – photovoltaics, or PV – and wind power generation can play in providing clean energy for our homes, schools, and workplaces.

The $2.1 million School Power...Naturally Program was offered to schools as part of NYSERDA's New York Energy $martSM Schools Program. Each of 50 schools, which were competitively selected in 2003, receive a solar energy and data collection system, worth about $24,000, for a school contribution of $1,500, or more than 90 percent of the cost to the school.

All schools in New York can participate in School Power...Naturally by using the curricular materials and data – they are available on our website to anyone.

In 2008, NYSERDA allocated $1.275 million to maintain, upgrade, and expand the technical and educational capabilities of the School Power...Naturally Program. Through this funding, educational resources including curriculum, kits, web-based tools, and contests have been developed to provide teachers and students materials to learn more about solar and wind power generation and the potential benefits these alternative energy resources can have for New Yorkers.

Solar Program Features

Education is the heart of this program. We’ve teamed up with professional curriculum writers to create multi-disciplinary materials to meet NYS education standards. The solar lesson plans for grades 5 through 12 describe creative, interactive ways for students to learn more about the sun and solar energy. The materials are downloadable and can be found in the In the Classroom section of this website.

Students in fifty schools across the state are learning hands-on how PV works. Each of these Participating Schools has a 2 kilowatt (kW) grid-tied PV system installed in most cases on its roof, as well as additional features to link the hardware on the roof with lessons in the classroom.

Students are discovering not only that a 2 kW system can meet about 25 percent to 30 percent of the electric needs of a typical home, but also how solar electricity works, and why it is an important option for producing clean, reliable and inexhaustible energy.

As another feature of this project, schools have been outfitted with instrumentation and educational software that provides computerized, up-to-the-minute performance dataLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., with information posted on this website (data is posted on the website in 15-minute averages) so that each PV school can monitor the performance of its system and the PV systems of other schools.

The most exciting feature of the program is that any school in New York can log on and use the data from any or all of the 50 schools, either alone, or in conjunction with the lesson plans available on this website, In the Classroom.

It is all part of NYSERDA's commitment to help New Yorkers learn how to use the power of the sun at school and at home.

School Power...Naturally is a multi-year effort. The 50 schools chosen to receive solar energy systems were competitively selected based on criteria that included a statewide geographical distribution mix, involving a mix of urban, suburban, and rural demographics. A large emphasis was placed on the action plan that was submitted by each entrant, showing how the school proposed to incorporate the solar energy systems into educational planning and community outreach. Eligible schools were limited to those contributing to the State's System Benefits Charge on the transmission and distribution of electricity throughout the State.

While funding is currently unavailable under the School Power...Naturally Program to pay for solar equipment, schools are eligible for funding under our PV incentive programLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.

Wind Resources

School Power… Naturally has several educational wind resources for students and adults to investigate the potential energy generation by wind turbines throughout New York State.

The virtual wind farm tool was developed to educate citizens about this emerging innovation in renewable energy technology. Educational materials that coordinate with the wind farm tool have been developed for teachers, parents, and mentors to implement a virtual wind farm activity as an exciting platform for introducing wind energy generation concepts at home or in the classroom.

WindWise Education

WindWise Education inspires students to learn about real-world energy issues by engaging them in innovative, hands-on activities related to wind energy. WindWise provides teachers with materials and training to seamlessly integrate wind energy into their classroom. Through advanced trainings, events and an on-line community, WindWise keeps teachers up-to-date with the latest innovations and provides them with on-going support. WindWise was created by Pandion Systems Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. and the KidWind Project Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. with funding from NYSERDA.

Wind and Solar Lessons using Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

The GIS Lessons and Tools for a New Energy GenerationLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. is designed to provide teachers with four activities and resources to explore wind and solar energy in the classroom using GIS. The lessons were designed so that someone with little or no experience using GIS can incorporate these into their classroom by selecting the right supporting resource to use.