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Thanks to the support of Gerding Edlen, Portland General Electric and the Energy Trust of Oregon, Atkinson School became the host of a 115.2-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system in July 2009. Under the arrangement, the school will generate renewable energy that will be sold to others. In addition to building a dedicated community of renewable energy educators, the Renewable Classroom PLUS project provided by Solar 4R Schools has transformed the school's PV system into an interactive classroom tool for the entire Portland Public Schools district. Energy monitoring services and equipment provided to Atkinson has made their system's live performance data available to educators nationwide at Solar4RSchools.org, allowing classrooms to chart, graph, compare and analyze the system’s performance in real-time. A touchscreen kiosk placed within the school gives visitors, parents, teachers and students the ability to interact with solar energy data while learning how solar energy works.
Atkinson Elementary School educators received an in-person renewable energy teacher training from Solar 4R Schools matched with a customized set of hands-on science kit materials to augment the school's existing curricula, and complete access to the resources available on the Solar4RSchools.org website.
As part of Portland Public Schools' continuing effort to improve the learning environment for their students, the District installed new roofs and seismically upgraded nine schools during the summer of 2009. Notable in this project was the use of thin-film silicon solar cells on the roofs. It is the District's hope that this project will inspire students to pursue careers and make decisions that make the world a better place.