High School Students Invited to Compete in New Solar Energy Design Challenge

The Virtual High School(VHS Inc.),a non-profit organization empowering schools with the industry’s most extensive variety of online and blended learning programs, in partnership with Concord Consortium and industry partners, presents The Solar Energy Design Challenge. Participants will model or design solar-powered systems and then submit their ideas for acceptance into the Virtual Solar Grid. The Solar Energy Design Challengewill run from June 1 through July 31, and all submissions to the virtual solar grid during this time will be evaluated for the challenge.

Contest participants will have unlimited, free use of Energy3D, a computer-aided design simulation tool, to model existing solar energy systems or design new ones. Users will be able to quickly sketch a realistic-looking structure or import one from an existing CAD file, superimpose it on a map image, and then evaluate its energy performance for any given day and location. Contestants can choose public buildings, school buildings, parking lots, utility-scale solar farms, or any other appropriate sites. Models for home buildings may be submitted, but only with permission from a parent or guardian.

A team of experts will evaluate the models and those models found to be scientifically accurate and environmentally appropriate will be admitted into the Virtual Solar Grid. Contestants may submit an unlimited number of models to the Virtual Solar Grid; in fact, the more models a contributor adds to the Virtual Solar Grid, the higher they will rise on the scoreboard.

The challenge is part of the Solarize Your Worldprogram, a research and education initiative created by the Concord Consortium, and industry partners to engage future engineers and STEM workforce in the effort to more effectively harness solar power. The goal is to crowdsource an unprecedented computational model that will help anyone, believer or skeptic of renewables, assess how much of humanity’s energy needs can be realistically met by solar power on the global scale.

“We are thrilled to be partnering on this grant effort to provide opportunities for students to engage in real-world sustainable engineering efforts using innovative tools like Energy3D,” said Kim Spangenberg, Associate Dean of STEM at VHS. “By encouraging these students to design and submit models, we’re inviting them to propose alternatives for a more sustainable future.”

Students who have completed the Solar Energy Design Summercourse last summer or the Sustainable Engineeringcourse this spring are strongly encouraged to participate. Students who are interested in participating and want to learn more about Energy3D and how to use it to build sustainable, solar energy systems may consider enrolling in the Solar Energy Design Summercourse this summer or use the Solar Energy Design Independent Learning Opportunity (ILO), available on the VHS website. It is not necessary to complete a course or the ILO to participate in the Solar Energy Design Challenge.

The top models submitted between June 1 and July 31, as decided by a panel of expert judges, will receive cash prizes: $500 for first place, $200 for second place, and $100 for third place, along with a certificate of excellence provided by the organizers. Winners will be announced by Friday, August 31. For more information and to register for the challenge, please visithttp://vhslearning.org/solar-energy-design-challenge.

About The Virtual High School

The Virtual High School (VHS Inc.) is an online learning pioneer. Since 1996, the organization has set the standard for quality online education. VHS provides courses taught in global online classrooms for secondary school students and online professional development for educators. The organization also meets the unique educational needs of schools through custom course development and individualized course offerings. VHS design and delivery standards are the model used by the National Education Association in their recommended standards for online learning. The organization has won numerous awards, including the Stockholm Challenge Award for Global Excellence in Information Technology, and is a three-time winner of the United States Distance Learning Association’s (USDLA) award for Excellence in Programming and Excellence in Best Practices. For more information, visit www.vhslearning.org or call (978) 897-1900.

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