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We are on a mission to bring solar energy education across the country and empower people of all ages to envision and start realizing a brighter future! Pun intended.
We will travel via Sunny, the solar powered van, to demonstrate that solar energy is a viable and readily accessible energy alternative and we need your support to get this project rolling, literally!
After a thorough research all of our 50 state's educational standards, we were surprised to find a lack of standards relating to renewable energy. The majority of them do not require in-depth renewable energy education and the instruction on the subject of solar energy is mostly limited to students enrolled in Career and Technical Education programs, a.k.a. vocational schools.
We came to the conclusion that our students are not being prepared to face one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century: how to provide secure, reliable, clean, and affordable energy for future generations. However, we understand that teachers have a lot on their plate and school funding is unavailable sometimes. Teachers, don't fret. We got you!
We strongly believe that solar energy should be taught to children across the country as a means to meet our current and future energy needs. Therefore, we spent the past four years developing and testing a curriculum that bridges the existing educational gap.
Our curriculum includes information about renewable energy, solar power, circuits, and how to make a circuit with solar power. The instruction is structured into a workshop that teaches our students how solar energy is harvested and how it can be used in an electrical and heating capacity.
The workshops will include videos and verbal information of the versatility of solar power as an energy source. Our students will work in teams to develop communication and critical thinking skills, but most important they will learn how to build electric circuits using solar power. This hands-on experience will enable them to fully grasp and understand the practical use of this renewable energy source!
July, 2019 Ideaing Article about Empowered by the Sun: https://ideaing.com/ideas/empowered-by-the-sun-solar-power/
July, 2019 Video Coverage by Channel 8 News in Tampa: https://www.wfla.com/news/hillsborough-county/tampa-couple-touring-country-in-solar-powered-van-to-teach-importance-of-solar-energy/
To foster the curiosity of our students to further explore this subject, we will provide them with the opportunity to start their own Empowered by the Sun Club. To build-up their newly aquired skills, clubs will be provided with a new fun and exciting project to work on every school year. With the guidance of a teacher or mentor, they can enter and participate in a competition to showcase their project alongside other clubs all over the country and have a chance to win Best of the Year award and prizes!
Not only will this expand their knowledge and capabilities, but it can spark an interest that could lead them to a variety of career opportunities within the growing solar energy industry. According to James Hamilton, an economist in the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry employs a wide range of occupations in a number of major industry segments: research and development, manufacturing of solar power materials, construction of solar power plants, operation of solar power plants, and solar power installation and maintenance.
Ours is a very clear mission: to spread practical knowledge of solar energy across the country and reach as many students as possible. We will travel coast to coast driven solely by the power of the sun to empower our students to create a brighter future for themselves and their communities.
After receiving our workshops, our students will share their experience with their parents, family, and friends. Imagine all the people that we will impact directly and indirectly, and that is without mentioning the impression that Sunny will have on them!
Not only will "Sunny" the Solar Powered Van be a testament of how renewable energy can supply our energy needs, but it will demonstrate that we can do anything we put our minds to. Three years ago we came up with this dream and today we are so close to making it a reality that we can almost feel it!
We quit our jobs to dedicate ourselves to this project and have shed some serious blood, sweat, and tears into it. We have developed the curriculum, went through all the legal work, acquired the van and electric motor vehicle parts, received the solar panels, and put a down payment to convert the van to electric. However, we need your help to finish what we started!
To reach our goal, we are bringing our individual and combined skills to the table to provide rewards that add value to our donors and their community. Will is a professional photographer and videographer, known by the pseudonym DJ Chill Will, and Margarita is a creative spirit and sewing enthusiast; both of whom enjoy the outdoors and are thrilled to share with all of you the fruits of our labor in order to make this project a reality.
We are only asking for the funds necessary to start our project, however we firmly believe that everybody deserves to understand and be able to use solar energy. Raising additional funds would enable us to offer our workshops to any and all students regardless of their socioeconomic background.
Any supplemental funds raised would enable us to acquire the materials and resources necessary to impact as many students as possible, help fund student clubs and rewards, all while maintaining a fun and exciting curriculum.
EACH SOLAR PANEL IS A SCHOOL SUNNY COULD VISIT THANKS TO YOUR DONATIONS*!
Together we can empower our students to create a brighter future and we truly cannot wait to hit the road on our solar powered van to commence our workshops and start spreading the word of what solar energy education can do for our students, their community, and our country. Every dollar brings us closer to another school, so what are you waiting for?
JOIN US IN OUR EFFORTS AND BECOME EMPOWERED BY THE SUN!
We put our minds together and came up with rewards that utilize both our individual and shared skills in order to show our appreciation for each and every one of your pledges. There is something for everyone and every budget!
HERE ARE SOME OF OUR FAVORITES!
OUR TOTE HANDCRAFTED BY MARGARITA IS SURE TO BRIGHTEN UP YOUR DAY!
DECORATE YOUR SPACE WITH WILL'S BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY!
LEARN ABOUT ELECTRICITY AND SOLAR ENERGY WITH OUT PERSONAL KITS!
ADD AN INVALUABLE TOOL FOR YOUR SCHOOL'S SCIENCE CLASSROOM!
GO CAMPING WITH US AND HONE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY SKILLS!
CAPTURE THE BEAUTY OF THE SPECIAL MOMENTS IN YOUR LIFE
A very special and heartfelt thank you to ESA Solar for supplying Sunny's solar panels, to Dale Kortum, David Lehrke, Joe Bisaillon, Jason Kelly, Justin Vandenbroeck, Keith Alexsuk, Kyle Kortum, Michelle Alexsuk, Patrick Sherwin, Ryan Harrigan, Sarah Bauer, Stephanie Valderrama, our loving parents for believing in us, and all of you who have assisted us throughout this process!
*Empowered by the Sun is a registered nonprofit corporation and you can get a tax deduction for donations. However, we do have to deduct the fair market value in the instance that you select a reward in exchange for your donation. We will provide a timely receipt confirming the donation amount, reward value, date, and type of donation.
Empowered by the Sun, Inc.
PO Box 733
Lutz, FL 33548
Risks and challenges
Some potential challenges with a project of this scale include: building a solar powered van, transportation from location to location, planning the logistics of reaching workshop locations on time, gathering funding for materials and workshops, holding the engagement of the audience, and collecting metrics from these workshops and students that are impacted.
Fortunately, we have been devoting our time and energy into this project for over four years and have spent ample time as a team and with consultants to reduce these risks. Firstly, we already own the van and we have the solar panels that will power it (a big thank you to ESA Solar for those panels). Instead of converting the van ourselves to be solar electric, we are working with a professional (BH Electrics) who has converted over 10 vehicles previously so that it is done correctly and according to our schedule.
This segues into the transportation problem. Unlike most people, we have a vehicle that just needs sun to go. The range is limited to 200 miles on a charge, but we will use this information to plan our routes so that we arrive to each destination on time and ready to have some fun. In addition, our solar powered vehicle (Sunny) allows us to bring the materials to each workshop so that we make sure we have everything we need and it does not need to be shipped (in addition to the environmental benefit of not using fossil fuels to send materials). Our logistics are planned out ahead of time and with plenty of wiggle room to account for cloudy days and other unforseen issues.
Gathering funds is currently our largest obstacle, and is why we made this Kickstarter campaign. We know that most people are unaware of the lack of electricity and solar power education in the United States and are also unfamiliar with us and what we do. This campaign is a great tool to show them what we are all about so that we can seriously fund our nonprofit work.
The audience is always difficult for anyone to engage. Fortunately, Will has been designing this curriculum so that workshop attendees really don't have much choice. They will be building the circuits and working with solar with their own two hands, this is no lecture! We have a great track record of engaging workshops and curriculum and our testimonials attest to that. Plus, over the past four years, Will has been able to actually test these kits and these workshops with real students and refine them so that they engage and educate the most.
Regarding metrics, we have different surveys that are given to each teacher after we leave so that we can get information from them and the students so as to assess our engagement and our results. These surveys also help us improve our workshops. Our online curriculum has digital metrics that are easy to see and display, and we will use those to update our inquisitive supporters.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Environmental commitmentsVisit our Environmental Resources Center to learn how Kickstarter encourages sustainable practices.
- (60 days)