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Jan 262011

Teaching school kids how to generate electricity used to be a pretty boring lecture.

But hooking up a classroom to a solar panel can generate excitement and learning.

Harlem Middle School will receive ten thousand dollars to install a small solar panel system. It won't generate power for the school, but it will power up Chris Noble's science classes.

"Now they're actually using that energy production, they're analyzing real life data, whereas in a book you have something that came from the past."

The Illinois Clean Energy Foundation grant provides 90 percent of the money, leaving Harlem Middle School to come up with the last one thousand dollars. The solar panels will be put up in March. And the students will get right to work.

"We focus in on geothermal, solar, nuclear, coal, and we try to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of all those."

Rockford Lutheran High School installed solar panels in 2006. Teacher Trey Fisk says they've allowed him to enrich his physics courses.

"You're hitting a lot of areas that we try and hit in physics not only the concepts, but we're also trying in some of the math and graphical work."

Students can see the panels work through a computer.

"This is how much energy we need, and right now we're right about maxed out cause all my lights in my room are turned on."

Fisk says by having the panels, kids have an easier time understanding energy savings.

"Anytime that you can actually add up how much money you're saving, money rings a bell with kids, they understand money."

Students used to have to learn about solar energy just looking through a textbook, but now they've got the real thing connected right into the classroom.