Last year, WISER partnered with We Share Solar to bring clean, reliable electric energy to WISER’s campus and to the campuses of eight other local schools. Earlier this month, WISER and We Share Solar’s partnership expanded to brighten the classrooms and the lives of even more students and educators in WISER’s network.
We Share Solar is a program that engages classrooms around the world in solar energy-based projects. They are committed to “solar energy with a purpose,” empowering teachers and students through hands-on STEM projects that have a practical use in energy-scarce areas.
Since many families in Muhuru Bay do not have access to a reliable source of energy, and, therefore, a source of electric light, when the sun goes down at the end of the day, students are often unable to complete their schoolwork. Especially for female students, who already face complex barriers to completing their education, light can mean the difference between earning their diploma and dropping out.
That’s where We Share Solar comes in. In addition to programs, We Share Solar provides communities with “solar suitcases.” These free-standing solar energy units can charge phones, flashlights, and computers, helping students to continue studying long after the sun goes down. But beyond their usefulness as sources of energy, these suitcases are also designed to be educational tools. Schools that are chosen for We Share Solar partnerships are able to teach their students to construct, deconstruct, study, and operate these “solar suitcases,” gaining hands-on STEM skills in the process.
WISER was honored this month to host, with We Share Solar. teachers from eleven schools from both Kenya and Tanzania. Attending schools included all of Muhuru Bay’s secondary schools, the Muhuru Bay Vocational Training Center, the Kakayena Center for Excellence, and SEGA Girls School. These passionate STEM educators gathered for a special two-day We Share Solar training session led by trainers from Remote Energy and WISEe (Women in Sustainable Energy and Entrepreneurship).
In these sessions, teachers covered everything from the mechanics of electrical systems to the far-reaching implications of global energy access. While they spent much of the sessions meticulously studying the nitty-gritty process of assembling and disassembling the “solar suitcases,” teachers also gained access to a wealth of resources from We Share Solar as they shared ideas and best practices with one another. They even had time to do some creative problem solving, with a session devoted to a Shark Tank-style solar energy design competition. Their creativity and ingenuity will no doubt show in their passionate work with students as they bring this information and these skills into their classrooms.
The training session couldn’t go by with the teachers having all the fun, though! Before the We Share Solar team departed, they also trained WISER students to construct, deconstruct, and maintain these “solar suitcases.” WISER girls were also able to dig deep into the science of how these solar units work. In an area where many girls are not able to finish secondary school, and women entering STEM fields is still stigmatized, WISER girls put on their goggles, rolled up their sleeves, and continued to break down barriers in the classroom and in the world.
And like any suitcase, these “solar suitcases” will travel. WISER will facilitate loaning a set of 12 “suitcases” out to each of the participating schools, allowing teachers throughout the region to replicate these workshops and demonstrations in their own classrooms. Through this program, the STEM innovation that happens at WISER can reach across communities, and hundreds of students beyond WISER can have the opportunity to experience STEM work in an engaging and relevant way.
We Share Solar and WISER both share a commitment to groundbreaking education and life-changing community impact. We at WISER are so grateful to We Share Solar and the participating schools for partnering with us in this work—helping students, and their communities, to shine.
WISER, We Care Solar, and the We Share Solar program would like to thank the Segal Family Foundation for supporting this vital work and for facilitating the connections that allowed WISER, We Care Solar, Kakenya Center for Excellence, and SEGA Girls School to collaborate on this effort.