In May, the Circle Teens spent a Saturday installing the photovoltaic lighting systems in each cabin. They used power tools to install lights fixtures and switches, ran conduit underground through piping, and installed meters to monitor their energy usage. Now, with a flip of a switch, it’s “Lights On!” at Circle Camp!
Thanks to generous support provided by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation (NHCF), the Circle Program and the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative (PAREI) have joined forces to run a seven-month solar energy education program called “Lights On!” With guidance from Sandra Jones and Peter Adams of PAREI, Circle Teens are assessing their energy usage at Circle Camp, discussing conservation measures to reduce annual operating costs, and learning how to engineer, install and monitor a photovoltaic system.
So far, the Circle Teens have completed four all-day weekend workshops with PAREI – learning about the resources that generate energy; finding out how electricity is created to power devices; and analyzing the dynamics of supply and demand. In small groups, the Circle Teens learned how to cut, strip and solder wire; discussed the difference in wire gauges; learned about conductivity and how to read schematics; reviewed how to understand and read a power bill; and practiced designing a schematic for a solar-powered energy system for Circle Camp. At least two of the teens were so enthused about what they had learned that they asked us how they could become licensed electricians after high school.
As part of the renewable energy program, the teens and their mentors met with the directors of PAREI at Lakes Region Community College in Laconia. There they took a solar tour of the college’s Energy Lab, played the energy source percentage matching game, analyzed energy usage on a pie chart, discussed commonly used renewable energy vocabulary, and participated in energy lab demonstrations.
The four workshop sessions culminated in the building of small solar photovoltaic lighting systems for each of the Circle camp cabins – eliminating the need for battery powered lanterns at night. This will save on the need to constantly replace alkaline batteries -- replacing disposable power with the renewable energy systems the Circle Teens created for our camp.