Michigan 4-H Renewable Energy Camp goes solar

Michigan 4-H Renewable Energy Camp participants gain knowledge and hands-on experience in the area of solar energy.

Group at HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative
Group at HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative. Photo by Janis Brinn, MSU Extension.

In July of 2019, youth ages 13-15 years with basic knowledge of electricity and an interest in exploring the application, research and opportunities in the field of solar energy participated in the Michigan 4-H Renewable Energy Camp. Participants had a week-long precollege experience with lodging at Shaw Hall on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. The youth worked with MSU Extension educators while engaging in a variety of experiences and explorations focused on solar energy.

According to MSU Extension agricultural bioenergy and energy conservation educator Charles Gould, the multiple educational site visits and experts from the community engaging with youth during camp resulted in an exceptional precollege experience.

Some of the educational site visits included the HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative, labs at MSU where researchers are conducting energy storage and production research, Harvest Solar’s Tritt Solar Project, and the off-the-grid Dunklee Family Farm.

Participants studying
Participants studying at Dunklee Family Farm. Photo by Janis Brinn, MSU Extension.

The youth explored the “how’s” of how solar radiation is converted to direct current and utilized by a load and how to minimize electricity use and understand an electric bill. They explored the “design” of how to design and develop a solar array model that would power their home and the design challenge—to modify their home array to meet the expanded needs of a farm, small business or electric vehicle charging station.

These 13 youth participants had the opportunity to visit labs conducting cutting edge renewable energy research, renewable energy companies that think outside the box, and farms that are using renewable energy to remain profitable.

When asked if this experience had been beneficial, one youth participant said, “Yes, because of the people we met as we traveled.”

Participants seeing the light
Participants seeing the light of using renewable energy. Photo by Janis Brinn, MSU Extension.

Michigan 4-H Renewable Energy Camp participants gained knowledge and hands-on experience in the area of solar energy for 2019. The youth participants went back to their communities “charged up” with “energy” to make a positive change and provide awareness in the area of solar energy.

Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program helps to create a community excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). 4-H STEM programming seeks to increase science literacy, introducing youth to the experiential learning process that helps them to build problem-solving, critical-thinking and decision-making skills.

Michigan 4-H has many 4-H science programming areas for youth to explore. Science is everywhere with many questions to ask and discoveries to be made. For more information about 4-H learning opportunities and other 4-H programs, contact your county MSU Extension office.

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