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Kanawha Elementary Students Gain Learning About Solar Energy | News, Sports, Jobs

CMTA solar engineer Katherine Cox watches Alyvia McCullough check her roster as acting project manager Monday at Kanawha Elementary. Students were elevated and given titles to demonstrate the different roles and duties of each CMTA team member during the solar panel installation process. (Photo by Douglas Huxley)

KANAWHA – Students at Kanawha Elementary School received a presentation on Monday from members of CMTA, an engineering consulting firm, on the solar panels the company installed on the school’s roof in 2019-2020 .

Cindy Oxender, Vice-Principal of Kanawha Elementary, reached out to the engineering company to see if she would come to the school and talk to students about the process and work involved in installing solar panels to help spark their interest in STEAM (Science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics).

“We’ve done solar power before at this school, so it felt natural. We did the engineering on the job, we also did the installation,” said Avery Colyer, project manager for CMTA. “‘And it’s real, it’s in your school, it’s over your head right now.’ Solar therefore seemed to us a natural option to present.”

Colyer began by asking the students if they knew what engineers did. Answers included fixing things, building things, and designing things. Colyer said all of these answers were correct and said it was part of installing solar panels, like the ones on the roof of the school. He went on to explain what engineers need to know and use to do their job.

“So engineers mostly use science, we use math, we use technology, computers, things like that to help do our jobs,” Colyer said.

Students at Kanawha Elementary answer questions Monday from Avery Colyer, project manager for CMTA, about the solar panels that were installed at the school in 2019-20. (Photo by Douglas Huxley)

Colyer then explained how they can use solar panels to create energy from sunlight. He then introduced Matt Anderson and Katherine Cox, both solar engineers, as the other members of the CMTA team. Anderson and Cox then raised students and gave them titles and jobs, to demonstrate the different roles and duties of each CMTA team member during the solar panel installation process.

The solar engineer assists in drawing and designing the system; the structural engineer is responsible for ensuring the building is safe to install solar panels; the project manager is there to keep everyone on schedule, the site manager will build the system; the electrician will connect the system to the electrical network; and the safety inspector will ensure that the system is safe to use.

Each student was brought up, given a job and the means to accomplish his task. The process showed the many steps followed to plan, install and complete the installation of the solar panels.

After the presentation, fourth-grade student Lucas Jackson said he thought the presentation was “great” and that he enjoyed meeting members of the CMTA team.

“(I liked) meeting people who make solar panels and who can actually harness the energy of the sun”, he said.

Bryson Munday checks the level of the model’s roof, as acting construction manager, while Katherine Cox, solar engineer for CMTA, assists. Students were elevated and given titles to demonstrate the different roles and duties of each member of the CMTA team during the solar panel installation process Monday at Kanawha Elementary School. (Photo by Douglas Huxley)

Addison Ruble, a fifth-grader, said she might like to be a project manager one day.

“I like the person who makes sure everything is going well, and gets everyone ready and on time, so they do everything right,” she says.

Douglass Huxley can be contacted at [email protected]

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