Pupil-designed solar panels gentle up FCAHS


The spring semester was a busy one for 30 renewable energy engineering students at Forrest County Agricultural High School. During the semester, teacher Matthew Seal guided the class through the design and construction of three solar panels. At a class celebration on Friday, May 7th, students installed and flipped the switch on their first set of panels.

The newly installed panels generate around 400 watts of power and will operate the illuminated campus entrance. According to Seal, the device currently produces 14.2 volts of electricity per day, and the entrance lights use 12 volts. The additional voltage is stored in a connected battery that can be used as emergency power on cloudy days.

The additional two sets of panels will be installed once suitable locations have been identified and approved by the school administration.

“We started in January,” said Seal. “I went to the administration and told them that if we could find the money to fund the project we would have the option to install solar panels on campus. The administration was very excited. ”

To raise the planned $ 1,000 for the project, Forrest County’s AHS community came together to raise the funds internally. The math, biology and construction technology education departments contributed some of their own funding to make the project possible.

“With the solar panel project, my students learned not only from the book, but also from the real world,” explained Seal. “After we raised the money and bought the materials, we spent the semester learning about solar energy and how we can benefit from using and integrating it. We learned how to calculate the angles for the solar panels. We worked with the CTE program and learned how to build the structure for the solar modules and what materials can best be used. ”

According to Seal, the student feedback has been phenomenal. He hopes to do the project again in the future when the school decides to continue offering the engineering class and he can teach it again. In preparation for this opportunity, Seal has already begun drafting grant proposals and raising additional funds.

Seal is a sophomore teacher. He previously worked in Alaska and the Gulf Coast as a marine biologist. When he decided to make a career change, he took an alternative route to his teaching license and said he was very pleased with the decision.

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