Winfield elementary school celebrates Earth Day with solar-panel project named for former student

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – To celebrate Earth Day, Winfield’s Country View Elementary School kicked off construction of its new Max Sunshine Project solar initiative, a project that teaches students about solar energy and remembers Max Henderson, a second-grade student who died in 2019.

The district said the project, made possible through a public-private partnership with the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) and PlaNet Productions, Inc., “is designed to include 96 units of UL-listed steel solar roofing product, each with a rated capacity of 270 watts, for an aggregate power system capacity of 26 kilowatts.”

The partnership will use a $50,000 award from the Department of Energy’s Solar in Your Community Challenge to underwrite

“In support of this this rural community project, Sumner-Cowley Electric Cooperative is donating additional funds and services to connect the solar power project into their distribution system which serves the school,” a news release from PlaNet Productions, Inc. explained.

The project also honors Max Henderson’s life with STEM-based curriculum focused on technology and engineering that will target third grade students, but with elements, the district said, that can be adapted and expanded for other grade levels.

“This customized curriculum can draw on the uniqueness of the barn setting, while honoring Max and his love of Country View Elementary School’s farm,” said Desaree Groene, school principal.

In addition to learning about the solar-energy technology, students at Country View Elementary participated in Earth Day events that included planting trees and bottle-feeding calves.

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