Solar Tree Project, 2013, Nicosia, Cyprus

In November I traveled to Highgate International School in Cyprus to begin a “Solartree Project.” A second group at Karsiyaka Central Primary School also participated in Northern Cyprus as a unification project. The goal of the “Solartree Project” at Highgate School is to build a fully functional “Solartree” that will offset the school’s computer and server electrical needs. The concept is “totally green computing.”

Highgate has about 250 kids from around the world attending. Nursery thru 12. The average class size is 7 kids per teacher.

The “Solartree Program” started in 2007 in Hillsborough, CA. It has evolved into a cross-curricular platform designed to provide students with a hands on solar sculpture design and build experience that encourages innovative thinking and entrepreneurial learning in combination with art, the environment, math, science, engineering, nature and technology. STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.

The “Solartree Project” also helps build community at Highgate, with parents lending their expertise and contacts to further the project. For example, a parent with a construction firm is contributing a concrete foundation, other solar panels and another the installation. Parents have also suggested building a Solartree at an old folks home, to bring the young and old together. In addition, Apple Computer (Greece) has endorsed the Solartree Project at Highgate, providing them an entre to take the Apple Educational Ecosystem to K-12 schools in Cyprus.

Along with Highgate International School, Drexel University School of Education in Philadelphia, PA is involved in developing the pilot “Solar Tree” K-12 cross-curriculum STEAM platform that meets national and international standards. I am the “A,” Arts, in STEAM. There is also interest at Highgate in to take the project further, to schools in Dubai, Turkey, Israel, Ireland, Great Britain and China in the future. As the project grows internationally it is possible to incorporate language learning. Image students in the US and China working collaboratively over the internet on a “Solartree Project,” communicating in each other’s language.