Mitchell High School students say “Solar panels will be cost-effective for the high school”

MITCHELL – The Mitchell Community School board was informed by Mitchell High School students that solar panels at the high school will be an environmentally friendly and cost-effective way to provide energy to the corporation.

Students from the advanced placement environmental science, calculus, and physics students made a professional presentation and presented a summary of their findings to the Mitchell School Board Tuesday night.

Calculus students Lily Matthews and Abby Embry used data they gathered using the data from 2017 -2020 to calculate total energy costs and usage for the high school.

The students then looked at Orleans High School that uses solar energy to reduce costs for the corporation.

Environmental students – Andrew Norrington, Chloe Young, and Gracee Canada focused on the three lenses of sustainability which include environmental, economic, and social benefits to using solar panels.

Physics students – Alec Barlow, and Sarah Chastain focused on the efficiency of the solar panels and how they operate. The focus on converting sunlight into electricity, where to place the solar panels, and how efficient the solar panels will be.

“For me, this is very personal to me, this is a big step in what I want to do for a career in electric engineering,” said Alec Barlow who plans on attending Rose Hulman Institute.

According to student Gracee Canada, the project has been a great benefit to her as a student.

“It helps us learn skills for our future. I am going to be an environmental engineer. Physics and calculus are all very useful. I used these classes to apply them to this project,” said Canada.

Abby Embry stated this project was started because of the capital improvement project the Mitchell Community Schools Corporation is undergoing.

“We thought that it would be a good investment for more clean energy at the high school and junior high,” added Embry.

Lily Matthews said the students were asked by the teachers Noah Kearns and Robyn Embry to lead the project after the corporation decided to look into solar panels as a possibility.

“We volunteered to be leaders of this project. With calculus you figure out the math part of it, and how you are going to save money. Then in environmental science, you figure out how you are going to save energy and save money with it. In physics, you figure out what the layout is going to be, we collaborated together on this great project,” said Lily Matthews.

“There is a lot of science and math classes, primarily calculus and physics which involves a lot of usage of data to come to conclusions on how you can use that data the best way possible,” said Andrew Norrington. “We have taken the information we gathered about the solar panels and how they work. With this, we have found out how we can put the solar panel for use for our school.”

From left to right – Alec Barlow, Gracee Canada, Abby Embry, Lily Matthews, Andrew Norrington, and Chloe Young

“This is like my dream, it feels so good to make a difference with people that genuinely care about something. Especially to make a difference among our own community,” said Chloe Young.

All the students agree that because of their efforts they will see solar panels installed at Mitchell High School and Mitchell Junior High School. This will have a great impact on the environment, energy savings, and bring cost savings to the Mitchell School Corporation.

“This makes sense for us to have solar panels,” said one of students.

The upfront cost of installing the solar panels is approximately $600,000 and within ten years the students say the solar panels will pay for themselves according to the data they have collected.

According to the students, there is no maintenance for the solar panels, unless they are damaged by a dust storm or tornado. Damages do not happen often with solar panels.

“We are very happy the school board listened to our presentation,” said the students.

Following their presentation the school board asked them questions on their findings and took their information under advisement. The students will return in May for a final presentation.

“It is much easier to teach when students are engaged. If they want to pursue their own interest, they have the motivation,” said Robyn Embry, Mitchell High School teacher, who helped these students with this project.

“This is a lot of fun for me personally, just to let them approach a problem, and watch how they solve it,” said Noah Kearns Mitchell High School teacher.