Australian Capital Territory students put solar energy into action

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Synopsis

Motivated by its recent installation of a photovoltaic solar power system, St Francis Xavier College has integrated important learning about solar energy infrastructure and natural energy systems across its curriculum. For example, senior mathematics students in trigonometry learn about the best angle for solar panels in relation to the sun. To discover how the units convert sun power into electricity, senior physics students examine the panels' circuitry and electronics, and senior chemistry students learn the make-up of photovoltaic cells and other renewable energy technologies. Design and technology students built a solar model car, for which they won the 2006 Novice Alternative Technologies Award run by the University of NSW.

The integration of sustainability into the curriculum is not limited to renewable energy. Students have designed a drought tolerant garden which shades classrooms and attracts native birds. The senior mathematics class planned the costing, design, and construction of the garden within a set budget, and a Year 11 English class developed documentation for the project and construction of the garden.

Students have also formed a proactive representative body to further encourage student and staff interest and involvement in sustainability issues throughout the school's operations and curriculum.

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