Math-Academy NYC Goes Solar! (example project)


Solar for Education!

For many years, teachers at our school have talked about how a solar power project can not just bring benefits to our schools utility bills, but also bring interesting lesson material to our classrooms. Solar power touches onto many subjects we teach: geometry, physics, chemistry, but it can also serve as a topic for students to learn how to debate and write persuasive essays.

So far, our students have designed and built some small mockup solar projects and worked on 3D modelling software to make it happen. These results were obtained using black plastic sheets as 'solar panels', so now we're fundraising to use REAL solar panels. Support our Divvy project and help us nail down our hypothesis!

Our School youngsters.

The Story

Our Energy-Environment Research Club students at Bronx Design & Construction Academy in the South Bronx collaborated with Columbia University to build a model Green Roof Integrated Photovoltaic Canopy on our school's green roof. Students were vital in the construction and continue to be deeply involved in the data collecting process.

Our goal is to build a second experimental setup and prove that solar panels and green roofs can co-exist on the same roof and actually perform better together. If this research confirms our hypothesis, we might fundraise in the future for a full-scale, grid-connected system on our rooftop.

Our first experiment setup with mock-up solar panels.


This research focuses on the mutual benefit of green roofs and solar panels. Last year, we built four model homes on Bronx Design & Construction Academy's green roof in the South Bronx: one house as a 'control roof', one with a green roof, one fixed 'photovoltaic system' over gravel, and a Green-Roof Integrated Photovoltaic Canopy (see picture). Our aim was to quantify the positive impact of a combined green roof and photovoltaic canopy system on the PV canopy system efficiencies, the efficiency of roof mounted HVAC air handling units, and on the health of the green roof vegetation.

Why Solar makes sense for us:

Solar cells love sunny, but cold enviroments. The lower the solar panel's temperature, the higher its power output. This effect is quantified by a panel's 'Temperature Coefficient', which is about -0.5%/C for multi-crystalline solar cells. This means that if you can keep your solar panel 10 degrees cooler, you will produce 5% more electricity at the end of the day. This is exactly why green roofs make sense: they keep the panels at a lower temperature, and therefore allow higher PV power production. In our first experiment, when we used black plastic as 'solar panels', we measured a 10 degree difference between the GRiPV and PV-over-gravel setup. Now we want to measure actual power output in addition to temperature and irradiance, but for that we need your help!

Support Us!

With your contribution, we can test our research hypothesis using real solar panels and use the generated solar electricity in our classroom! Our components list includes:

  • 6 solar panels
  • Batteries
  • Cables
  • Inverters
  • Data acquisition hub
  • Sensors for temperature (8) & irradiance (2)

Can we count on your help? Our students (and teachers) love this project and we'd like to keep this momentum going! We'll be posting updates on our Divvy page as well as our websites below...

Please contribute some Divs and/or share this project with your friends :)


Team: 6th Grade All Stars!

Motto: Support our school in going green!

Team: 7th Grade Super Suns

Motto: Making the world a better place

Team: 8th Grade Hipsters

Motto: Go Green Go!


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Project Initiator:

Mathe Maticien
@ Middle School 44

As a math teacher at Math Academy NYC, I've always enjoyed bringing real-life projects in to my classroom. Sustainable energy technologies has excited me ever since I was a high school student myself!