Otamatea High School awarded $20,000 solar panels from Genesis School-gen Trust

For Genesis Energy

Otamatea High School awarded $20,000 solar panels from Genesis School-gen Trust

Otamatea High School students will soon be harnessing the power of the sun thanks to a new solar panel package from the Genesis School-gen Trust, worth $20,000. Otamatea High School is one of the first schools to receive STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) equipment from the Trust’s first round of funding.

More than 400 schools applied for STEM packages from the Trust, which was set up by Genesis to provide schools with solar, science, technology, engineering and mathematics equipment to help rangatahi (young people) solve real-world problems. Only one school was granted solar panels.

Otamatea High School principal Rachel Clothier-Simmonds says Otamatea High School is fortunate to have staff members who are passionate about giving students authentic learning experiences.

“This solar equipment package will help engage our students in real-world learning. We are already making plans to create a new cross-curricular programme that will use the solar panel equipment, together with the data it generates, to explore science, mathematics, technology, business economics and sustainability topics,” said Rachel. “Being a rurally isolated school with limited resources to invest in equipment, this award is a huge win for Otamatea High School.”

According to Deputy Principal Dirk Smyth, the school’s primary motivation for seeking solar equipment is to allow educators to develop integrated programmes for students, and to “raise awareness of sustainability and help involve and educate our community on the importance of investing in renewable energy resources. Environmental sustainability is an important issue for New Zealand and we need our students to be engaged in a meaningful way,” said Dirk.

Schools, including primary, intermediate and secondary schools, from Northland to Southland, applied for funding from an initial pool of $50,000.

Genesis School-gen Trust Chair, Lee Mauger, says Otamatea High School’s interest in wanting to involve and educate the community on the importance of renewable energy made its application stand out from the other 400 applications.

“We saw in Otamatea’s application a real desire to engage in learning that would be relevant to the students’ lives and their communities. We also liked their focus on engaging more girls and Māori in STEM subjects, because those two groups are underrepresented in STEM subjects and careers.”

Otamatea can now compare its solar energy generation to 92 schools in New Zealand, from Russell to Timaru, through the School-gen website.

The Genesis School-gen Trustees, including education, IT and energy-generation experts, determined which schools receive equipment packages.

Genesis contributed $50,000 towards the first funding round and from August, will be inviting customers to donate to the charity by adding a small amount to their monthly energy bill. In addition, Genesis covers all administration costs so that 100% of donations go to schools for equipment. 

More about the Genesis School-gen Trust:  www.genesisschoolgentrust.org.nz

More about School-gen:  School-Gen, Genesis’ long-standing community investment programme, continues to provide STEM games, support and resources for teachers and parents. More information can be found here: https://www.schoolgen.co.nz/about/

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