Meadowview Magnet Middle School

School Facts:

Meadowview Magnet Middle School is a rural school in Surry County, North Carolina. It’s located about 20 minutes north of Pilot Mountain State Park and is less than 7 miles from the Virginia state line. With their mission “Hands-On Minds-On” and more than 400 students it was the first school to finish a 5 kW solar PV installation with the help of our NC GreenPower Solar Schools grant program.

The NC GreenPower Solar Schools grant program provides matching grants for 3-5 kW solar educational projects at schools, complete with a weather station, real-time monitoring, curriculum and training for teachers. Any K-12 school in North Carolina may apply for a 50% matching grant, up to $10,000, and NC GreenPower assists the school with raising the balance of funds required.

We talked to Jeff Edwards, Science Institute Director at Meadowview Magnet Middle School, about his experience with the program and the impact it will have on his students.

NCGP: We would love to hear how your teaching improved or changed since getting the solar educational array.

Jeff: One way my teaching has changed is that I look for ways to incorporate the solar array and renewable energy into many different areas of our curriculum.  I like for students to make connections and the array has helped me in making those connections.  Even if I am not directly teaching about electricity or the solar array, students often ask questions about it, and I greatly value these teachable moments.

NCGP:  Now that the installation is finished, what types of reactions have you gotten from students?  Are they excited to learn about the solar array?

Jeff: I do get a very positive response from my students. They have many questions such as “Does it power the entire school?”  “Does it produce energy on a cloudy day?” “What happens at night?”  Unless I am presenting a detailed lesson on the array, student questions typically drive the conversation.  The questions they pose allow us to go deeper in discussions on the use of solar power and energy acquisition.  When students pose their own questions, there is more buy-in and deeper learning takes place.  We purchased some additional small solar panels to allow our students to investigate some of the factors that affect energy production in a solar panel and to encourage them to solve their own questions.

NCGP: We were so excited for Meadowview Magnet Middle to have won a grant in our first year of the pilot program. Can you tell us a little more about whose idea was it to apply for the grant?  Were you anxious to hear if you got the funds?

Jeff: As the coordinator for Surry County Schools Science Institute, it was my idea to apply for the grant, and yes, we were very anxious to hear about the funding.  Installation of the solar array fulfilled many purposes for the Surry County Schools Science Institute and for Meadowview Magnet Middle School.  The Science Institute hosts programs for elementary students on the campus of Meadowview, so the array gave us something to add to those visits. The timing of the grant opportunity was also perfect for us as we were in the process of transitioning to a STEM magnet school at the time. We wanted students to have a more study opportunities in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics at this campus location and the solar array has helped Meadowview Magnet Middle School to achieve this goal.