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WPS Virtual Solar Olympics Held From Home

Wisconsin Public Service

Learning at home has become the norm due to the coronavirus pandemic. Joining the list of events now being done from home was the Solar Olympics, held last week and sponsored by Wisconsin Public Service.

Most years, the 11 participating schools would gather to demonstrate their solar-related projects. Marathon High School science teacher Todd Stoeffel said much can be done from home, but not all of it. He says showing the project can work at competition was missing. The solar car race traditionally has been the most popular...

"The car seemed to be the big one, then the cooker and the water heater. Those are the ones that the schools fill their spots with those..."

He says there's other competitions like solar art, essays and marketing. Stoeffel says they didn't have as many competitors this year as other years...

"I think they liked the idea of being on campus and competing in person, but we also had kids who competed for three years and were seniors and they didn't want to go out and miss on their chance. It was nice that WPS did this virtual, as kids who still wanted to do it had a chance..."

To qualify for the virtual Solar Olympics, each student submitted a video or photo of their entry, along with a short written description, in one of nine events.

Among the schools entered were Rhinelander, Lakeland Union High School, and Tomahawk.

For nearly 25 years, WPS has hosted Solar Olympics to help students learn more about renewable energy in a fun, hands-on setting. While the traditional event involves groups of students working together to design and build solar-powered devices, area teachers were confident a virtual competition would enhance students’ online lessons.

Solar Olympics is open to schools that participate in SolarWise for Schools, a program WPS provides to help high school students learn about solar and renewable energy. The program’s curriculum has helped enhance STEM learning for thousands of students, and is provided to 90% of the high schools in the WPS service area.

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