Menlo Park resident Jordan Stone may teach social science at Independence High School in San Jose, but it’s solar energy that’s taking him and two students to Kenya this February.
“I got an email from another teacher about PG&E’s We Share Solar Suitcases® program,” Jordan explained. “It looked like a great opportunity to learn about solar design and power, so I applied. We were one of seventeen schools in northern and central California to get selected.”
PG&E is partnering with We Share Solar and the WE Charity to provide this education program that empowers high school students to build more than 100 portable solar electric systems, known as We Share Solar Suitcases®.
Encouraging students to “act locally and think globally,” participation in the program is intended to inspire students to complete a local community service sustainability project. Students submit a short video highlighting their project for the chance to send one teacher and two students on a free humanitarian trip with WE Charity where they will distribute the suitcases to energy-poor regions.
“We’re going to install them and teach the people how to use them,” explained Jordan. “The classrooms where we are going are currently lit by candles and kerosene lamps. One benefit of the solar suitcases is that they’ll be used to extend the school day.
“The other benefit is that there will be better teacher retention as they will no longer feel so isolated. Now, they sometimes have to wait days while their phones get charged at a place that has electricity.”
Jordan said that 22 students participated in the project with 12 who contributed significantly to the sustainability project on campus. This group did presentations on why they wanted to go on the service trip and what benefit they’d bring back to school. Two were selected.
Jordan, who grew up in Menlo Park and graduated from Menlo-Atherton High School, promised photos and a report on the trip when they return.
Photo courtesy of Jordan Stone