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Learn. Play. Grow.

Solar Energy is for Everyone!

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Kids,you may have heard the term "solar energy" before, but what exactly does that mean? This is your place to learn all about the energy from the sun, how we use it, and what this may mean for our future. Check out the fun activities that will help you explore the sun's power, or stay up to date with the latest alternative energy news.

Teachers, if you feel that solar energy is something you'd like to bring into your classroom, we've got links to great lesson plans, complete with a glossary and activities, and even professional development sites.

Parents, if you are a solar kid at heart and think that solar energy may be right for you, our page will tell you more about what you should consider.

Basics: What is Solar Energy?

Solar energy is energy from the sun that makes its way to the earth in the form of rays. This is the most abundant form of energy in existence, and we use it to make thermal energy (heat) and electric energy (electricity).

To make electricity directly from the sun's rays, we use something called a photovoltaic cell. Photovoltaics or PV make an electric current when exposed to light. These devices are also called "solar cells." Solar cells contains a naturally occurring element found in sand called silicon. When the sun's rays hit silicon, a chemical reaction happens, moving electrons and making an electric current. A group of solar cells is called a solar panel, and to generate lots of energy, many solar panels may be used to form a solar array.

pv cell

Photons in the sunlight displace electrons in the silicon, which creates an electric charge that can power your home!

Why Should We Use Solar Power?

Toxic air pollution given off by power plants is making children and families who live around the plants very sick with respiratory problems like asthma. Power plants also give off dangerous amounts of greenhouse gases like Carbon Dioxide and Methane which contribute to "greenhouse effect." This is when the layer of gasses allows light radiation to make its way through the atmosphere, but traps the heat waves from being released back out, thus warming the earth. Keeping in mind that everything is connected, this heating then causes the ocean level to rise, which drives people in coastal areas away from their homes; it causes the living conditions of many sea creatures to become too warm to survive, which in turn affects the entire food chain; and it negatively affects the health of us all as we breath in dirty air.

Clean, alternative energy like solar takes advantage of the abundance of energy-packed sunlight that makes its way to our surface. By using solar panels to power our home, we use less energy from the power plants, which means less toxic pollution is being put into our atmosphere. 

Kids Say! Your Voice on The Sun and Its Power

Lucy

 When asked why she's a SolarTown Kid, Lucy from Chicago, IL said:  

 "The sun is warm and it helps plants grow."

 She's right! Plants are experts at using the sun's energy. They don't even need technology to do it!

Tell us why you're a SolarTown Kid, along with an optional picture and hometown, and we'll share it with the world here on our site.

Solar Energy for Everyday Use

solar backpackSolar energy is one of the most versatile forms of renewable energy today and can be applied to basically any type of appliance. Did you know we can harness energy from the sun when we walk, run or even hike? If so, then you have heard of the solar energy backpack! Attached with a solar panel and battery, the backpack absorbs the suns rays and is able to store the energy while you’re on an adventure. This could come in handy when you need immediate power or when you simply need to charge a device. 

What Can You Do?

Speak up! Do you want to have solar power at home, too? Talk to your parents about making the switch to solar, or take them to SolarTown where you can see some of the products that run on solar energy. Remember, the point is you don't have to start big. It can be as easy as switching out your old battery-powered flashlight for a solar-powered one. If your parents have cell phones, have them check out the solar-powered phone chargers, or even get a solar powered bird bath for your backyard! It can be up to you to start your family on the road to a greener lifestyle.

What about in your schools? At SolarTown Kids, we know that you care about saving energy, but it's hard to know where to get the funding to make a difference. We're here to help you find the resources. If you want to take action and work with someone to get solar energy for your school, we recommend working with The Foundation for Environmental Education, an organization founded to help fund solar projects across the continent. So many schools have already installed solar panels with the help of SSS, and yours could be one of them! This program has helped schools cut down on the amount of energy used from the grid and saved them money. If you have any questions about your school, and to see all the other success stories, check out their site at:

solarschools.org

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