Golden Apple: Students Learn About Solar Energy At Brainerd Public Library
The Brainerd Public Library recently partnered with a unique organization based in Pine River to offer a class on solar energy to grade school students. The Rural Renewable Energy Alliance taught the class on the different types of solar energy and students were even able to create a solar-powered robot.
“Today, we had the Solar Energy 101 class. We had someone from Rural Renewable Energy Alliance come out and teach it and just learn a little bit about how solar energy works and all the things that the sun can do for us,” said Jenna Pettit, Brainerd Public Library STEM Program Facilitator.
During the class, the students were able to learn about solar energy and also make their own light refracting bookmark and put together a solar powered robot.
The Brainerd Public Library hosts around six to eight free STEM classes for the public a month.
“STEM is really important because it teaches a lot of the things that are important in life – so, trying and when you fail you have to try again and patience and working as a team,” added Pettit.
This week, the library invited a representative from the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, or RREAL, to teach a unique class.
“RREAL is a nonprofit that focuses on making solar energy accessible to all people. One program is to serve low-income families and communities and then this program is our education community outreach program,” explained Erica Bjelland, RREAL Program Development Specialist.
Overall, the class was a hit.
“My favorite part is when we got to drive our little robot,” said Brooke, who attended the class.
“I think the robot and the bookmark, they were both as good as each other,” added classmate Matias.
For RREAL, it was a great opportunity to share their mission with a different demographic.
“Solar is becoming a lot bigger in Minnesota and in the U.S., so it’s a great opportunity for students to start learning more about it. Kids could have a job in solar one day and they might even see it around,” Bjelland said. “So just knowing how it works and what it does is a cool opportunity.”
For the organizers, the best part of the day was witnessing the students learn something they hadn’t known before.
“Watching the kids put in a lot of effort and put in a lot of concentration and focus and then when it finally works, or when they finally understand one of the concepts we’re doing, their whole face just lights up,” said Pettit.
Students are invited to attend the library’s STEM class in April where Happy Dancing Turtle out of Pequot Lakes will visit to teach a water cycle class on Earth Day.