5 Ways to Explore Science with the Summer Sun

Hands-On Sun Science

Summer gives sunshine – so use it for science! Utilizing summer sun can mean making the most of the long days, but the endless rays offered this time of year lend themselves to sunshine-based science projects. Whether studying they physical characteristics of the sun, like it’s core, solar flares or sunspots, orthe relationship between light and heat, examining evaporation, or exploring UV radiation, sun-based science is best when conducted during the sun’s brightest, warmest, and strongest time of year!


Take your new found appreciation for our sun and conduct experiments at home that lead towards learning about science through the lens of the summer sun:  Read the rest of this entry »

Western Mass Students to Compete in Junior Solar Sprint

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Educational & Fun Competition for Students Promotes Awareness About Transportation, Technology and the Environment

The Junior Solar Sprint happens on June 5th in Pittsfield, MA and is open to teachers, home educators and community groups. A great opportunity for students to learn firsthand about non-polluting transportation.

On Saturday, June 5th, area middle school students will gather at Reid Middle School in Pittsfield, MA to race their model solar-powered cars in the eleventh annual Berkshire Junior Solar Sprint (JSS). Participation is open to teachers, home educators and community groups. More than 80 students from Western Mass are expected to participate in the JSS this year.

The JSS is a fun and educational competition for students in grades 5-8 who work in teams to build model vehicles powered by the sun. In the process they learn firsthand about non-polluting transportation. Now in it’s 11th year, the Berkshire JSS is part of a national program that offers 5th through 8th grade students the opportunity to design, construct and test the performance of a model solar electric vehicle. It inspires teachers, students and their families to learn, teach and raise community awareness about transportation, technology and the environment.

Registration for students begins at 8:30am Judging of entries begins at 9:30am and races begin at 10am. The solar vehicles will be judged for speed, craftsmanship, innovation and technical merit, and the top three winners in each category will be eligible to compete in the regional JSS championship in Springfield, MA on June 13th.

If you are interested in registering a team, or are interested in volunteering for this event, contact Cynthia Grippaldi at 413-445-4556 ext. 25.

Read the rest of this entry »

Learn How Solar Power Can Save Your Family Money

Solar Power Seminar: Homeowners to Learn How Solar Power Is Cheaper than Utilities

Sun Puppet - Riverfest in Shelburne Falls, MA

Solar powered sun puppet. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Alteris Renewables and GREEN Northampton will host a free public seminar on solar energy for homeowners in the Pioneer Valley on July 14th.at 7pm at the Media Education Foundation (60 Masonic St.) in Northampton. The seminar will explain how solar works and is cost competitive with electricity supplied by utilities for the first time. Homeowners are encouraged to register for the seminar by calling 800-955-1548 or via email info@GREENNorthampton.org.

The seminar will focus on the affordability of solar energy in the Pioneer Valley. Through its partnership with California-based SunRun, Alteris Renewables is turning home solar into a monthly service, like cable or phone service, for residents of the Pioneer Valley and others in Massachusetts. With this new program, upfront costs plummet from $30,000 to as little as $1,000 for customers to be able to install solar electric systems on their homes. Customers will enjoy immediate savings with locked-in rates for the next 18 years – a valuable protection from future electric rate increases. They can also make a good return on their initial investment.

Experts have long projected that solar electricity would eventually be on par with electricity from the traditional electric utility. Now that cross-over point has been reached for Massachusetts homeowners. Electricity rates in Massachusetts have nearly doubled over the last 20 years. If these trends continue, a typical customer could recover their upfront payment in as little as two years and see an after-tax return on their investment of as much as 60% or more.


GREEN Northampton is a 501(c)3 non-profit whose mission is to foster community bonds and promote environmentally sustainable, low-energy and healthy lifestyles neighborhood by neighborhood in Northampton in response to climate change and resource depletion. info@GREENNorthampton.org

Junior Solar Sprint Training

Junior Solar Sprint

Teachers and home-schoolers, this is your chance to get your middle-school students engaged in science, technology, creativity and teamwork in order to meet real world energy challenges:

  • What: Junior Solar Sprint Team Leader Training
  • Where: Reid Middle School in Pittsfield, MA
  • When: February 4th from 4 to 7 pm.
  • Cost: FREE

Learn how to become involved with a unique opportunity to engage middle school-aged students in applying science, technology, creativity and teamwork to real world energy challenges in the 2009 Junior Solar Sprint (JSS). Get started with this free workshop for team leaders organized by CET. Presented by Susan Reyes of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA), the workshop will give you all the information you will need to join in the fun! More information about the JSS can be found on NESEA’s website.

All attendees will receive free curriculum materials, including JSS lesson plans and a free kit to build during the workshop. Both veterans and ‘newbees’ to the JSS will be there to share ideas and helpful advice for getting teams together. As an added incentive, food and beverages will be provided and you will have a chance to win a raffle for a photovoltaic panel for one of your model cars! A letter of attendance for professional development will also be provided.

For more information or to register for the workshop contact Cynthia Grippaldi at 413-445-4556 ext. 25.

  • Read about the 2008 JSS results HERE.

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