2017 Summer Institute for Educators… registration open

The 5-day Solar Schoolhouse Summer Institute for Educators (SIE) for 2017 is scheduled for July 23th-28th, in Sebastopol, California. This the 15th year we’ve offered this solar energy  professional development experience for educators.  Consistent themes are hands-on, relevant, real-world… and fun!  As you explore Climate Science and it’s effects with your students, it’s important to provide an element of hope… through exploring clean energy options. Increased solar literacy provides students the necessary tools to become active participants as we move toward a clean energy future.

Educators at the 2016 Solar Schoolhouse Summer Institute share one of their creations – solar notebook cellphone & emergency lighting chargers.

Educators at the 2016 Solar Schoolhouse Summer Institute share one of their creations – solar notebook cellphone & emergency lighting chargers.

Participating Educators learn the fundamentals and history of passive solar design, solar thermal, and solar electricity, then apply these lessons in a variety of projects (simple solar ovens, model solar homes, solar powered fountains, cell phone chargers, LED lights, and more).  Lessons are adapted to your teaching situation and aligned with Common Core & Next Generation Science Standard goals.

Limited scholarships are available. To Learn more and to Register visit http://solarschoolhouse.org/sie2017/

Watt Trekker 2016: The SMUD Tiny House Competition

Solar Schoolhouse and the Watt Trekker crew visited SMUD’s Tiny House Competition, October 2016, in Sacramento, California. Participating college teams have designed and built energy efficient and solar powered tiny homes, as potential affordable solution for housing. We spoke with several student teams to learn of their experiences. To learn more about the teams, view floorplans, and see who won. visit smud.org/tinyhouse.  

visit watttrekker.org to view additional energy videos from the Solar Schoolhouse team.

Repurposing Campaign Signs into Solar Projects


[November 9th, 2016] I’m not feeling very well this morning, but after crawling out from under the covers, saw that the Sun is shining today, as it does everyday,  and realized that the task of shaping a Clean Energy Future remains.  Now, more than ever, the importance of engaging young people in this movement has increased dramatically.   One small step in this process is to REPURPOSE those campaign signs that have littered the landscape across the country.  While this corrugated plastic (polypropylene) material is recyclable, please consider collecting some for use in your Classroom or School, or help direct these materials to your local school.  Providing students a Hands-on opportunity to explore applications of harnessing the Sun’s Energy, is a good start to toward that Clean Energy Future we’re hoping for.

We’ve been experimenting with this material for the past 5 months since the primaries, making Solar Notebook Chargers (for cellphonse, flashlights, powerbanks), and reflectors for Solar Ovens (increasing temperatures by up to 100F), lightweight model solar cars, and more.  We’re collecting this material from our local area, so we have plenty for now.  If you are a teacher or school, reach out today to the campaign organizers in your local area about collecting signs before they are recycled or landfilled.  Find the contact information online for campaigns in your area to ask about donating the signs to your school.   For solar project details, we’ll have a few project options to share online shortly. Fill in your contact info here if you’d like project details when they are available.

In addition to SOLAR Energy projects, there are many more cool and practical projects that students can get creative and build. Tools required are a utility knife and some zip ties. plus some math skills and imagination.

Other potential projects using repurposed campaign signs made of corrugated plastic.

or one of my favorites, the bike trailer camper
or the tiny coroplast house….


Solar Emergency Preparedness Kit – FREE Workshop for Educators – Sacramento Nov 2nd

In collaboration with SMUD, we’re offering a FREE Workshop on November 2nd (4-7pm) to area Educators.

Participants will build a Solar Charged Emergency Preparedness Kit (coined E123) that includes: Solar modules mounted on repurposed campaign signs, wired to a USB charger, a LED Work-Flashlight (modified by you to allow for solar charging), and a mini-Power Bank (to store solar energy for charging cell phones on the go).


This workshop is designed to provide you with ideas to recreate in your own teaching environment, with your students. Designing and building a Solar Charging station that can be used on a routine basis, as well as for emergencies, provides you and your students with an opportunity to experiment with the magic of Photovoltaics (solar electric cells) and apply it toward creating a useful tool for AnyHome – AnyWhere.  There are many different designs possible, allowing your students the freedom to get creative.  In our design, we’ll be working with repurposed corrugated plastic campaign signs as a building material – as it has desirable waterproof and durability characteristics. We’ll also be keeping much of this material out of the landfill.

Designing and building practical solar solutions for your home, school, or community… helps raise solar literacy and increase understanding of what is possible as we help shape a clean energy future …together.

This workshop is targeted for Educators involved with grades 6-12. If you are working with students of these ages, but not in a traditional classroom, please consider joining us. To learn more and to register. Please share with interested colleagues. Call or email with any questions.

Location: Folsom Powerhouse Museum. 9980 Greenback Lane. Folsom, CA
When: Wednesday. November 2nd. 2016, 4-7pm.  It’s FREE, but RSVP required.

Looking forward,

 PS. For those that can’t make it to the workshop, we’ll have information on how to get materials for this projects the weeks ahead. Contact me with any questions.  tor @ rahus.org