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Sun shines in at Urban Roots solar field trip


The sun helps grow more than vegetables and sunflowers at Urban Roots in Reno! Last week young minds from Bailey Charter Elementary School were sprouting with new information about the power of solar energy thanks to Black Rock Solar Education Program Manager Catherine Leon’s learning excursion to the garden school. Fifth- and sixth-grade students from the Reno school discovered the clean, quiet beauty of solar energy as Catherine explained about electrical circuits, photovoltaic panels and fossil fuels.



To explain global warming, Catherine asked students to call out various ways we create more greenhouse gasses: “Driving cars! Running our air conditioners! Leaving the refrigerator door open!” Each time a student called out a climate-change contributor, Catherine piled another heavy, black jacket over a student who had volunteered to be the Earth. Whew! She was getting hot under there! But when students called out ways we can curb greenhouse gasses, off came the layers and the student cooled down: “Ride your bike! Turn off the lights! Use solar panels!”



What better way to demonstrate the problem with burning coal than to touch it? Who would want to breathe that? But creating energy with solar panels is sustainable and clean – as the students found out …





The kids even got to create working water pumps with mini solar arrays.



In 2012, Black Rock Solar awarded Urban Roots a Sunshine Grant to fund installation of a 2.9 kW off-grid, battery-backed photovoltaic array that powers two office “pods” and various lights. Urban Roots’ Reno site is a teaching garden, designed to help kids and adults get hands-on with their food.

If you have a group interested in organizing a field trip or program to learn more about solar, contact Catherine Leon at 775-BE-SUNNY or

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