Posted: 12:00 a.m. Saturday, April 12, 2014

Kings Mills

​​King students create solar heater

Engineering students designed and implented a green solution​.


​​King students create solar heater photo
Kings High School engineering students created a solar heater to warm their classroom. Pictured are (from left): teacher Jason Shields and students Matt Hovis, Jennifer Niemantsverdriet, Abigail Nenna, Matt Sosnowski, Will Pfirrman. Not pictured is Josh Baker. CONTRIBUTED

By Lisa Knodel

Contributing Writer


Kings High School engineering students designed and implemented a renewable energy source to heat their classroom.

Teacher Jason Shields presented his Engineering 2 students with the challenge of identifying a problem and creating a green solution.

The students took the challenge to heart, creating a solar air heater to warm Shields’ classroom.

Shields says that the students learned about heat transfer, emissivity, circuits and photovoltaic cells and then began to design their heater.

They also visited Melink Corporation in Milford and learned how an entire facility could operate completely off the traditional power grid. Melink Corporation is a provider of energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions for commercial and institutional building industries.

The Siemans Corporation donated software and a 3-D printer to help the students create prototypes.

After constructing multiple prototypes, the students finally developed a product that actually heats Shields’ room. On a 20 degree day, the solar heater will deliver enough warm air to heat his large classroom to 70 degrees.

“The kids are really excited to see their invention work so well and that we used solar energy to help heat my room,” Shields said.

District officials said the total cost of the heater was approximately $500 — an investment easily recouped by the deferred cost from heating the KHS engineering room.

This project isn’t the first from Shields’ students to implement greener solutions at school.

Shields’ interest in implementing renewable energy sources into the curriculum was sparked when he participated in the Toyota International Teacher Program in Costa Rica in 2009 and again in 2011.

As part of the professional development program, Shields developed sustainability lessons and created an action plan to bring back to his classroom. His goal is to help produce the next generation of green engineers and inventors by placing his students at the forefront of green technologies and sustainable engineering.

Upon his return from the program in 2009, Shields gathered a team of eight students to participate in the Lemelson MIT InvenTeams competition. They were selected as one of 14 teams across the country to receive a $10,000 grant for their idea to create backpack hydro-electric generators for people in developing countries.

As a result of the engineering students’ other efforts, water-refilling stations were installed around the school to reduce the number of plastic water bottles ending up in landfills. They also developed a Java program that transfers electric, water and gas meter data to the district’s online ENERGY STAR portfolio to help the district monitor and conserve resources.

“Both of my trips to Costa Rica have offered a true paradigm shift resulting in the development of new lessons and projects for my school and community,” Shields said.

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