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Maharishi School receives $15,000 grant for innovative renewable energy curriculum and solar panel installation
by Eileen Elsinger

MSAE Grants Department    Translate This Article
19 November 2005

Maharishi School in Fairfield, Iowa, is taking pioneering steps to raise student awareness about the importance of using renewable energy. In pursuit of that goal, the school was awarded a $15,000 Solar 4 R Schools grant from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation of Portland, Oregon, to implement a renewable energy curriculum and to install six solar panels for school use. The project is a demonstrable means of educating students on the specifics and benefits of solar electric power.

Maharishi School is one of only two schools in Iowa that have a solar panel project according to Dave Evans, Solar Energy Program Planner for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

'This project is consistent with the school's continuing role to raise public and student awareness,' said Dr. Ashley Deans, Maharishi School Director. 'We have long hoped for the chance to make our school a leader in the area of energy self-sufficiency. We live in a progressive community where many families have constructed energy-efficient homes and expect their children's school to be a leader in this knowledge. Installing solar panels and initiating a renewable energy curriculum will be stepping-stones on the path to achieving energy self-sufficiency and educating our students in new technologies. We plan to capitalize on the interest that will be generated by the installation of new solar panels to solicit further support from the community to meet our goal.'

An extensive exhibit in the entryway of the school will increase the educational value of the project. A computer monitor will display the current electrical output of the system as well as current weather factors (the amount of solar radiation and temperature that determine the amount of energy being produced). This presentation will detail the function of all the solar system parts to help students, faculty, and visitors better understand how solar electricity is generated.

Generation of electricity from sunlight uses silicon cells on solar panels to absorb photons of light. Photons of a given frequency have the same amount of energy regardless of the brightness of the sunshine on any particular day. The energy cells on the solar panels absorb some of the light photons, which transfer their energy to electrons in the silicon, thereby generating a flow of electricity. The school will use the power for electrical needs as the electricity is produced. The solar project complements many other energy efficiency steps that the school has taken to reduce energy costs.

Funding for the Solar 4 R Schools projects is provided by the Vote for Change Renewable Energy Project artists, including Bonnie Raitt, Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, REM, and Stone Gossard (Pearl Jam guitarist). The Bonneville Environmental Foundation manages the projects on behalf of the artists. More information on these projects can be found at:

Announcement by MSAE Grants Department

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