Recently, Pioneer has introduced new sustainable technology in the annex. The sustainability coalition has raised money to implement a solar charging station. The purpose of this station is to provide students with a place to charge their cellular devices while in the annex. It has a passcode so that each individual phone can be locked in their own compartments. This makes it a secure and sustainable way for people to charge their phones and other devices.
This has been a lengthy project that started when former student Lizzie Williams, now a University of Michigan freshman, was a sophomore in high school. “We started with a mobile solar cart that we moved around Pioneer in order to demonstrate the workings of solar energy, and see if people were interested,” explained Williams. “We toyed with various ways to implement solar into Pioneer, such as a weather station, and we eventually landed on the charging station.” The Solar Panel Club was advised by David Konkle throughout this project. Konkle is the president of the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association. In addition, Mr. Armstrong was also able to assist with the development of this project.
This project required the Sustainability Coalition to work diligently alongside the Pioneer Administration in order to successfully complete this project and figure out any underlying issues. “I was the most active in this role, where I spent a lot of time writing and editing letters to school administrators and Ann Arbor Board Of Education,” said Williams. In addition, the Sustainability Coalition had the responsibility of working with the Ann Arbor Board Of Education to get a final approval. They successfully secured funding from the school during their senior year, and gifted the charging station to the school as their senior gift. However, the charging station did not get installed until this year. This senior gift goes hand in hand with a new push for a more eco-friendly school and city.
Ann Arbor has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2030, and the Sustainability Coalition is trying to do their part by utilizing solar energy at Pioneer. For Ann Arbor, to achieve carbon neutrality they would have to reach a net zero carbon dioxide emission by balancing carbon emissions with carbon removal. Last years Sustainability Coalition president Sampoorna Ravikanth explained the larger goal of a charging station, “The solar charging station was meant to inspire future efforts through Ann Arbor Public Schools to utilize solar energy.”
Solar Panel Club, a subset of the Sustainability Coalition, is working to make sure solar energy is being taught in all science classrooms. Junior Cooper Hite, a member of the Solar Panel Club, elaborated, “We are working on lots of programs, including educating within classes about solar energy.” The Solar Panel Club was able to help engineer the design of the charging station by coming up with a wiring on the wall runs to the outside where the solar panels are which is how the charging station works. The Ann Arbor Public Schools then facilitated the installation of the newly ordered solar charging station.
Pioneer is currently taking great strides towards becoming a more eco-friendly school with the help of the Sustainability Coalition. There has been an initiative to clean up the pond, and to add a composting whole outside of the school. The Sustainability Coalition is excited to do more when it comes to solar panels. They envision installing large solar panels on Pioneer’s roof. But for now, the solar charging in the annex has been a great accomplishment.