The topic I chose was photovoltaic pannels. I chose it because the technology of solar pannels amazes me by it's mechanism and capabilities. Solar energy is harvesting the rays from the sun as energy. It works like this the solar pannel is made of silicon, once the sunlight hits the pannel the silicon has a chemical reaction and turns the light into electricity. This energy can power many houses and no oil or chemicals are required. Solar energy reduces the emissions of greenhouse gasses and is very efficient. It can generate lots of power to sustain many homes, utilities and much more. I support this energy since it will save our environment and saves money on electricity and water bills.

In Hawaii we get plenty of sunlight yet we still rely on foreign oil. What's up with that? We have our own sources of energy right here like biofuel, waves, geothermal and even solar. Many people are using solar energy to save the environment and money. Our government has turned to solar to like when Governor Linda Lingle made a law that all newly built houses must be equipped with solar pannels to save more money and return Hawaii as an eco-friendly state. I support this because using solar energy state wide will save our environment and other lands too. By doing this we have shown that officialy America has the ability to be green. Many environmentalists have gone even further such as making solar powered ovens, energy efficient houses and much more fascinating items. My family installed a solar pannel so we could save the environment and our money as well. These benefits and facts are more the reason to use solar energy.

In this project I just have one question, what do people at Punahou think about solar pannels? If they don't care or appreciate it I must show them how it is beneficial. For example I will explain that solar energy reduces green house gasses and is highly efficient. We can use for almost every appliance and show the numbers of people doing this and ask them how it works out for them. By doing this I will ensure that Punahou students will be appreciative, supportive and commited to the power of solar energy. If they agree I will ask why and whats their whole opinion about it. I believe in the benefits of solar energy ever since I did a science project on renewable energies in 6th grade. From the research of the project I learned that solar energy is very powerful and is a big help to mankind. Ever since then I love watching news reports about it and subscribed to Popular Mechanics to learn more recent information about it. I believe in the greatness in solar energy not just because of its mechanisms but that it is a great benefit to mankind and the environment.



Comments from Ms. Y (re: Step 1):

Andrew- This is an outstanding start. Your first paragraph is clear and gives important background information. Your personal connection is also apparent and I am glad you are building on previous learning. A few suggestions:
a) I think it would be helpful to our community if you could put together a one-page "flier" of info showing the benefits of using solar panels. This could be given to all teachers (if you chose to) and could be available to parents. You could even give one to each Biology classmate to take home. This way you could actually impact change by informing our community further. Your flier could include relevant info such as "how much will this cost me?" "how do I start?".
b) From your description, it seems you are going to go around and talk to people. Do you know how many and who you will ask? Do you think grade level will make a difference in their responses? Will you collect this data in an organized way? You say you will explain to people why this is important. How will you go about this? Is talking your best avenue in convincing people? Are there other ways to communicate this info to others (i.e. visuals, videos, etc.)? Again, something like a flier might help you in your explanation and in convincing others.
Hope this helps you. I would be happy to talk to you in person to brainstorm further.

Facts about Solar Energy

What is solar energy and how does it benefit us? Solar energy is the energy in the suns rays. A solar pannel is used to collect the energy through photovoltaic pannels. Usually their made of silicon, you can either use it for energy or for water heating. For energy you would use a PV panel since it contains silicon which turns light into electricity and draws it to an outlet through a metal wire. For water heating you would use a solar collector (there's a difference between the two.) containing glass tubes to heat your water. The benefits of this are it cuts down your electricity bills. It cuts it down since it doesn't consume as much as gas does. It is better for the environment because it does not release green house gasses so it weakens global warming. Its a renewable resource so we'll always have plenty of this energy and it won't run out. It is a powerful energy it can power cars, cell phones, ipods and other appliances. In fact Shell oil company predicts that 50% of the worlds energy will come from solar. Most people in the world and especially developing nations would want to use solar because of it's cheap energy but it's too expensive to install. Despite that the price is actually getting lower and the technology is becoming more advanced and that enables more people to buy solar. Even though solar energy is very efficient we can save it even more by passive solar energy. Passive solar energy is making your house able to use the sun without using the panel that much. It can warm a house and bring in more light. It can even be used to cool a house without the need of an airconditioner. This energy is one of the best we can use.

I think that solar is a very useful and simple energy. After seeing the benefits not only is it environmentally friendly and a great is very cheap. The prices have lowered due to more efficiencies in its technologies and the recent issue with the stock market. Because of those factors I think many people can afford solar. I agree totally with the facts since its been proven to work and generate a lot of power. To me these facts are very real, they show great progress in solar energy. What I really like about it now is that people can't say "oh, its too expensive!" well that is absolutely not true. As I mentioned earlier it has lowered and that to me shows many people are willing to buy it now and it actually pays for itself in a short while. I also admire that it is very capable of powering machinery as huge as cars because I think it shows it is an energy that can generate electricity quickly, immediately and vastly. I truly think that is something solar is definitely worthy of. Now I understand what passive solar energy is and it is really even more efficient. It lets your house absorb more energy for you and that caught my eye because this technique could help save families money on using more energy and it improves solar even further. The energy of solar is one of the best and through these improvements of the technology and its prices solar should dominate America and is really now way more better than oil. I think these improvements will make people more aware of solar energy.

How the government is encouraging solar energy

The Department of energy is funding heavily for photovoltaic technologies to the markets. The DOE is trying to ensure it achieves grid parity by 2015 so solar technology and use will increase in the United States. They are continuing research to make this goal by studying cell technologies, to show evidence of progress of minimizing the effective life cycle cost of solar energy and teaming up with national laboratories; start up companies; universities and integrated industry teams. They are focusing of the advancement of solar energy technologies to be highly competitive with other forms to produce electricity. This is only one of the programs and there's more that the DOE is focusing on. One of these is they're concentrating solar energy by using mirrors to reflect and concentrate the solar energy and turn it into heat so it can power a steam generator. This department is ramping up its research, deployment and development efforts. The DOE is making contracts with big companies and getting the other government agencies to remove the barriers so they may deploy the technology. The CSP technology itself can actually produce enough energy to meet the highest demand of it. Many researchers are developing the technology to be even more low cost and have more efficiencies. The public is becoming aware of the benefits of this technology. This sub-program specializes in Linear control systems, Thermal storage, advanced componenets and systems, power tower systems and dish/engine systems. These many ways are to provide and enhance clean energy to the grid and people.The state government is taking a similar course of action and to be one of the first states to run on clean energies completely. 80,000 single family homes, multi unit dwellings and institutional facilities in Hawaii are powered by solar water heaters. The electric companies are granting up to $1000 dollar incentives per system of solar water heater owners. The government is focusing on making more solar energy and other renewable energies. Solar energy is very cost effective and powerful in any part of the Hawaiian islands. This proves Hawaii is capable of solar energy use and can be very productive of it. As I mentioned in the introduction Gov. Linda Lingle is making new laws to match her goal of making Hawaii rely on renewable resources. Through these ways Hawaii and the U.S. is now trying to turn our power towards solar energy and its a good start.

I think that it's about time the U.S. government actually took notice of using solar energy for power. Also the government has a good start making new effecitive plans for solar energy for the grid and people. I am glad that the U.S. is now becoming more environmentally friendly like Japan or Europe. By going solar we have more power than we actually ever did before. I like that the government is trying to establish solar plants around the country to get more power, it really is a bigger step to be more environmentally friendly and be more efficient. I also am impressed that the local government is setting new energy efficient laws and proposals so quickly, for me this means we will have more progress for our islands. I think that the government is doing a major first step to become a more solar energy efficient place.
The URLs are:

How Businesses are becoming solar powered

Even companies are becoming solar and developing and selling the technology. Some examples of these solar companies are Evergreen Solar. Evergreen solar is a manufacturer of String Ribbon solar power panels. It has just signed two new contracts with Mainstream Energy corporation and AEE solar inc and a top trading company in Japan. These contracts are for Evergreens clients to market their products nation and worldwide. The other companies Mainstream energy and AEE solar recognize the capability of Evergreen and because of that they have teamed up with Evergreen to spread solar energy. Other things these companies are doing are like Mainstream supports the development of solar energy and is trying to achieve that it can be available to more customers. AEE is a huge distributor of the technology and is markets it to many people nationwide. Evergreen is one of the maufacturers of this area and because of its advanced solar technology more people would buy it. Another big company has entered into this as well. GT Solar international has signed a $46.8 million contract with Top Green Energy Technologies. GT is a global provider of solar equipment and technology and Top Green Energy Technologies, a Taiwan based producer of high quality solar cells. GT has developed new technologies like CVD reactors, STC converters and an integrated support module for Top Green Energy Technologies. Through this contract the new solar technologies are being manufactured in Taiwan to distribute to its people. The first part of giving the equipment to Top Green Energy Technologies will take place in 2009. Now that businesses are becoming solar the development into new solar technologies will help us to new progress and eco friendliness.

I really adamire that businesses are now going with solar. This is a really big improvement towards becoming more efficient in energywise. These businesses are really being innovative to help support our needs in a more sufficient way. I really think they have taken a big step into being a great solar producer. I like also that along with innovation companies are developing new technologies to enhance solar panels. These technologies are the key to use solar energy to the fullest. Through innovation and development many businesses will become solar. I think this a big step towards scientific and environmental progress.
They are articles. The URLs are:

Examples of new solar tech, products and solar in the home

There are many new technologies for solar besides solar panels, it can be used for more things like cars, space ships, ipods, appliances and etc. Some new technologies are that scientists are developing a way to absorb solar heat from asphalt roads, nanoattenas could absorb more solar energy than panels but are still being developed, solar cells are being developed to absorb infrared energy, Toyota is adding a solar panel to its car the Prius for cooling purposes, new technologies are being developed to shoot solar energy down to earth from satelite and stores it too and in Holland a solar power speed boat is being built to go at 30 knots. The average U.S. home consumes more energy than a developing country and the U.S. consumes 26% of the worlds energy. Recently Americans have been switching to solar energy. There are over 20,000 houses that utilize solar energy and 800,000 homes with solar water heating systems. With a staggering total of 820,000 homes use solar energy this year and that would be about 24 million people using this energy this year. So the evidence is clear that many American homes use solar energy and this is a sign that shows we are aware of it.

I am amazed with all these new technologies being developed. This shows that solar energy can be used for anything, I am amazed by this versatility and flexibility of the energy. I really think we are developing towards the progress of this energy. What I also like is how many homes use solar energy. I appreciate that many people are aware of the situation and this will help towards the better of our environment and mankind. Solar energy is very powerful and I think that the more and more people are exploring solar energy they will have a better understanding of it.
The URLs are:
Note: the part of the graph that says years doesn't have the years on them but series 1 is the year 2000 and series 2 is the year 2008. Its messed up a little but if you try to figure out what the #s on years means please don't that's not important. So all you have to remember for the graph is Series 1 is the year 2000, Series 2 is the year 2008 and the # of people is facing vertically. Sorry but I hope you still can read it well.

Comments from Ms. Y
Andrew- It is clear you have done your research and that your understanding is progressing. It is good to see that you've consulted a variety of resources and can see what is happening in different countries as well. I just had a few questions/ comments for you: 1) Did you know there is a "local food" graphic above? Perhaps this got put here by mistake? 2) Two of your URL's don't work (2nd one and 4th one). 3) For your graph above, it would be helpful to summarize what this shows rather than just narrate the key (Series 1 equals....) 4) It would have been good to find a news article from Hawaii. This would help inform you as to our community here locally and where we're at.

Interview dates

I set up an interview with Mr. Kiang on 10/29/08 at 8:30 today. I have also set up an appointment with Mr. Herbert recommended by Mr. Kiang on Tuesday, Nov. 4 at Mr. Herbert's house around 4 ish. I also have another appointment with Randy Overton at the Science Center Conference Room at 10:40-11:30.
On those dates I will be meeting them and getting information until then I'll just wait.

My results from the interview

I have finished my interviews with Mr. Kiang, Mr. Herbert and Mr. Overton. When I interviewed Mr. Kiang who's one of the technological experts at Punahou and I was recommended to him by Mrs. Yamamoto-Edwards my bio teacher about what Punahou students think about solar energy and some facts of what people think of it in Hawaii he gave me some very interesting answers and some I didn't expect. I asked him 10 questions and some of the questions were very similar or unescessary so I put an answer for the ones that matter. Here are the questions I asked him.
Question #1. Are people in Punahou aware of solar energy as an alternative energy?
Question #2. Do they support solar energy?
Question #3. Do they know the benefits of it?
Answers for all 3 questions: Yes there are plenty of Punahou kids who accept it and are aware. And many kids are working on solar projects.
Question #4. Do they think it's cost effective?
Answer for Q4: No, it depends on whose using it. Families consume more energy so it wouldn't be cost effective but for single people yes since they consume less energy than families.
(The answers for questions 5,6,7 & 8 could not be answered. Sorry)
Question #9. If we have an access to solar energy why do people don't want to use it?
Answer for Q9: Some people can't afford the installation which is expensive at the moment.
(Question 10 could not be answered. Sorry.)

An overview of what I learned from Mr. Kiang so far is that many people including Punahou people accept solar energy and support it. But right now it is not suffcient enough for many and many people can't afford installation.

I interviewed Mr. Herbert who's a chemistry teacher but also is my homeroom teacher but I changed my questions a little. I changed them because obviously the people I interviewed can't answer some of them so I changed them to still reflect upon what I want to know and something they could tell me with great expertise. I interviewed Mr. Herbert since Mr. Kiang recommended me to him and he was a big help. Here are the questions I asked Mr. Herbert.
Question #1: Do people at Punahou regard solar energy as an alternative energy?
Answer to Q1: They love it more than just as an alternative energy source. It is the future and it is very important.
Question #2: Do they support it? Why or why not?
Answer to Q2: Yes, it saves the planet, reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the air.
Question #3: How many solar panels are there total?
Answer to Q3: A low amount of households have it but many are being used for commercial or business purposes and it's a high amount.
Question #4: Do plenty people use solar energy? Like the majority?
Answer to Q4: For pv (using solar energy for electricity) no, but for water heating yes since there's a large amount.
Question #5: Do people not want to use it? Why?
Answer to Q5: The people believe they can't afford it even though they want to. They still think they can't afford it even with a tax break for installation that helps.
Question #6: Is it cost effective?
Answer to Q6: For a long term usage yes since it will lower the electricity bill by that time. But for short term no since it still has to be paid off.
Question #7: Is it available to everybody (like can they afford it)?
Answer to Q7: For now yes it is because of the tax breaks and to help buy a panel for the average family they can start by installing one step by step.
Question #8: Do you think more and more people are joining in on the solar energy craze?
Answer to Q8: Yes, more people love it.
Question #9: Has solar energy worked out well for you? Why?
Answer to Q9: Yes, so far because it lowers the price of the electricity bill and is more durable.
Question #10: What would ultimately ultimately convince people that solar energy is a better choice than imported oil or gasoline?
Answer to Q10: If the government could be making it more affordable by offering incentives and tax rebates that could help.

An overview of what I learned from Mr. Herbert is that many people love solar energy and respect it but they think they can't afford it despite it is becoming more affordable and it can actually pay for itself in the long run.

Here's some pictures from Mr. Herberts house of his solar panels and the equipment for it.
Here's some of the data that Mr. Herbert has kept with his solar panels. Through these conditions his solar panels have been very useful and this is an example of how solar panels are very beneficial to us.

sorry the picture of it might not be available but I have the original paper with me so I'll try to make it better.
Here is the photo of Mr. Herberts data on his solar panel. It's quite interesting to look at.

I interviewed with Mr. Randy Overton the head of the physical plant at Punahou on imovie to ask about solar energy at Punahou. For the record I cut out some of the questions because he didn't know it so I just have these. Here's the movie and enjoy.

An overview of what I learned from Mr. Overton is that people are supporting solar energy and the prices to pay are very cheap and it has great efficiency. And if we give people more options then solar energy will be a big hit. Still solar is still one of the best options we have still out there.

I went to see Mr. Kiang again to help me call up solar companies to interview them about their prices. I interviewed some and I got enough data to help educate people of how solar energy can save you money and the environment. So here are the questions I asked them.
For water heaters:
1. What is the price to install a 80-gallon solar water heater?
2.What is the price to install a 120-gallon solar water heater?
3. How much do your clients save on energy bills from this?
For photovoltaic panels:
1. What is the price to install a photovoltaic panel?
2. How much do your clients save on eneryg bills from this?

Here are the results but note that the prices are before the rebate and federal and state tax credits. So I hope you enjoy.

Comments from Ms. Y (re: Steps 2 & 4):

Wow, Andrew! I can't believe you've interviewed so many people. Incredible! I am so impressed with your level of engagement. I also love how you included pictures of Mr. Herbert's solar panels as well as data he has collected. Very interesting and relevant. I only have a few suggestions/comments: 1) On the interview where you list questions and responses it might be helpful to use 2 diff. colors to help distinguish. 2) Your movie isn't embedded properly. Do you need help with this? Basically you save your iMovie onto your desktop, then upload as you would a picture, then insert as you would a picture. Let me know if you need help with this. I'm interested to see where you'll go from here!

How my action plan will work

My Action plan will be to interview the 18 kids in my biology class then another biology class that has done the carbon footprint assignment. I will give them a survey sheet to fill out asking these 5 questions.
1. How many people are in your family?
2. How much is your monthly electricity bill on average?
3. Do you support solar energy?
4. Can your family afford it?
a. Even with the tax rebates?
b. Even without the tax rebates?
5. If you owned a regular house and had a family would you get solar energy? Why?
a. Would you like water heating?
b. Would you like photovoltaic?
c. How about both?

And if they didn't have time to reach me I would give them my punahou email address to respond. Then compiling my data I would make posters and put them around campus. I also would give fliers out to everyone to give to their parents showing the benefits of it so they may consider it.

Andrew- I would suggest starting with the 18 students in our class. Most students on campus won't be able to answer your Question #2 above (however, I heard that Mr. Strang another Biology teacher also had his students do the Carbon Footprint assignment...).

The Results from the survey

I have interviewed the 18 kids in my biology class but only them since I was too busy to get to the other classes. Sorry. So anyway I have gathered the results from my survey and compiled them onto a spreadsheet on Microsoft excel. So here are the results enjoy.

What I have seen from these results generally are that all the people in our class support solar energy, most people in our class can afford it, some are not sure and very few can't. About 10 people are either unsure about what the tax rebates are or if they can still afford with tax rebates. 7 people can afford them with tax rebates. Most people believe that if they could they would get solar panels for their house, some would get water heaters but others don't know what a photovoltaic panel is. For the rest that won't get some of these stuff think it's too expensive. That is generally what everyone thinks.

I have come to a conclusion and idea of how I could make my fliers so people will be persuaded to go for solar energy. In my flier I will explain what solar energy is and how efficient it is, the pricing of the solar companies and some info on the remaining tax rebates since one of them is gone now. I will also include how cost effective it is and how it can pay for itself in the long run, reduce energy bills. I will recommend a couple of solar companies to go to get solar installations, then once the fliers are passed out I can tell these people to tell their parents so they can get installations. These ideas I am putting in my flier are based on what I have learned from what people think about it. So I will make this flier and make it so cool everyone would read it so that's my conclusion.

The Flier

I have made the flier explaining solar energy and showing the incentives for it. I will pass it out on Monday, Tuesday or so. I will be going around giving out the fliers or I'll pass them out as people enter the Cooke Library. Here's the file of the flier.

I have about 19 copies of the fliers, so I will pass them out in class on the day I present my whole project.
Hope you enjoy them! Oh and there will be a picture of the flier here soon for those who can not access my docx so thanks for waiting!

This flier here to explain what people didn't get or didn't agree with on my survey. The flier explains what solar energy is, how the tax rebates will make a solar panel significantly cheaper, and the efficiency of solar panels. I also recommended some solar companies, generally the ones I interviewed and one company that installed our solar water heater. This flier will benefit the class because they will know the truth about the solar panels and how cheap they have become. This flier will inform people better about the situation of solar energy and they soon may get one. Also the solar companies I recommended will benefit from this because now more people will come to them to get an installation. When people do this the companies will get more profit and more installations of solar panels will reduce green house gasses and save the world. So go and get solar panels, spread the word and save the world!

Here's the picture! enjoy!

Final Comments:
Andrew- Overall I've been very impressed with your level of engagement in this project. You really took the initiative with your work, always going beyond the minimum. You directed your own learning and knew what you needed to do at each next step. A few final comments: 1) I don't know if your survey changed or if I just didn't catch this the first time, but it is better to not ask someone directly if they can afford something as in your question #4 (it asks people to share their family's economic status). It is better to phrase something like: What might be some factors that play a role in your not using solar energy? a) cost, b) don't know enough, c) time, etc.
2) Usually in a flier, it is helpful to keep things brief (like presenting information in bullets, phrases, and/or graphics). People often won't take the time to read paragraphs, 3) Also, if publicizing businesses, it is important to state why you might be promoting these particular companies over others. In this case, I think these were the companies that were willing to answer your interview questions, correct? If so, you should state that on your flier (otherwise someone could object to why you haven't listed their company as one option). Last question: do you feel you have gained deeper insights into solar energy from this project?
You can pick up your Final Project Assessment sheets from my office at the beginning of Semester Two. Aloha!