Rahus Institute

Rahus Institute

Solar Schoolhouse Program Lets the Sun Shine In through Outdoor Education

From learning how to cook with sunshine, convert sunlight to electricity, heat water, and design habitats that stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter, students in California are discovering firsthand how solar practices can reduce the need for fossil fuel and help to shape a clean energy future.

Since its inception in 2000, Solar Schoolhouse, a program of the nonprofit Rahus Institute, has been immersing K-12 students in nature through Outdoor Education Schools, also known as science camps. For many, the outdoor education experience marks their first time immersed in nature. In this setting, students learn of the human history of using the sun’s energy to heat, cool, and power our homes for 1000s of years. They experience the magic of solar cells – converting sunlight into electricity with no moving parts through solar kinetic activities and explore the parallels between photosynthesis and photovoltaics. Students learn how biomimicry – design inspired by nature, can help us lead low environmental impact lives.

Supported by funding from All Points North Foundation, Rahus whose name literally means “sun house” (Ra is the Egyptian god of the Sun and hus is the Norwegian word for house) provides educational materials and teacher training at Outdoor Education Schools throughout California. Orientation and training for administrators and naturalists via the web are supplemented by on-site visits to provide input on strategies for integrating solar energy lessons into nature-focused curriculum.

Currently focused on engaging classroom and community to explore how solar practices can increasingly power the world with sunshine as fuel, the research and educational organization aims to help empower students to engage in shaping a climate-friendly future.

Energized by the outdoor experience, the Rahus Institute hopes that students and teachers will return from camp inspired to further their solar exploration, creating projects, and sharing with others. Undoubtedly, for many, the science camp will have a long-lasting effect on how responsibly students view the world – their future.

For more information: www.rahus.org

Photo credit: Rahus Institute

All Points North Foundation provides grants for U.S.-based projects and initiatives that support our priorities: improving public middle school education and teacher training, and implementing effective solar programs and/or projects.

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