Students send out bids for new solar panels at Middle Park High School |

Students send out bids for new solar panels at Middle Park High School

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, CO, Colorado

Science students at Middle Park High School are embarking on a hands-on project that could lower the school’s carbon emissions.

In the works is a project headed by Science Department Chair Sam Crane, the high school’s earth and science teacher, that could result in the installation of solar photovoltaic panels, generating an average of 4 kilowatts of energy.

That amount is enough to light the high school science lab for about a year.

Students estimate the panels could offset the school’s carbon output by 5 tons per year.

“It’s not a huge dent, but it will help kids understand how energy systems work,” Crane said.

The renewable energy project is made possible from $15,000 in grants the district received last spring. A Toyota Tapestry grant of $10,000 and a Feeport-McMoran STEM grant of $5,000 were put forth to encourage renewable science innovation in schools.

Middle Park High School was the only school chosen in Colorado for the Tapestry grant, Crane said. Mountain Parks Electric officials were instrumental in writing the grant on behalf of the school and have been providing in-kind help for the project, he said.

Crane and the science department plan to request additional funding for the project from Mountain Parks Electric in December.

After researching weather data to decide which source of natural energy – wind or solar – they should pursue for renewable opportunities, Middle Park science students settled on solar and have since sent out request-for-proposals to Grand County and Front Range vendor companies that might install a system. The location of the system is still being decided.

Construction is slated to start in January, with proposed completion in March.

After completion, students will then monitor the output of the system and calculate the carbon offsets achieved.

The project is aimed “to help kids understand energy, conservation and efficiency,” with the practical knowledge of a real-world project, Crane said.

– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail