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On January 21st, 2013 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day) We Care Solar launched We Share Solar in collaboration with The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose and through the support of Applied Materials. Held in the newly opened TechLab of The Tech Museum, twelve We Share Solar teachers gathered with forty students from the local Girl Scouts, Third Street Community Center and teams from the museum’s program called The Tech Challenge. Together they built ten We Share Solar Suitcases, five of which are destined for the developing world.

Hal Aronson, Neal Aronson and Gigi Goldman mentor students building Solar Suitcases at the TechLab

Hal Aronson and Laura Stachel opened the workshop by teaching the students about energy poverty, sustainable development and how circuits and the flow of electricity works through diagram drawings.  The students were then divided into teams of four; each table was assigned an instructor.  They opened their beautiful blue suitcases filled with the components of a We Share Solar Suitcase and identified each of the parts.  Together the teams completely assembled the Solar Suitcases, commissioned their systems, and took them to the sunny museum rooftop. They held their solar panels up to the sky, watched their batteries fill with solar energy, and monitored the current coming in and out of the Solar Suitcase using the system’s charge controller.  Then they performed the ultimate test. The students turned on efficient LED lights and…much to their delight…charged their own cell phones!

At the end of the workshop, the students received t-shirts commemorating the special day.

Before departing, the group reflected on their day and wrote notes to their counterparts in Uganda and Sierra Leone who live in orphanages and attend schools that have no light.  The We Share Solar Suitcases will be going overseas to provide light to youth who live in energy poverty.  In cooperation with Pennies for Posho, some suitcases will be installed in a girls’ dormitory at New Hope Orphanage in Bugiri, Uganda, providing a safer environment where the girls can study and play once the sun sets. Schools For Salone will provide We Share Solar Suitcases to schools in Sierra Leone, illuminating the library of the Children in Crisis Primary School in Upper Allentown.  This will be the first light for a school with over 470 students. The Solar Suitcase will enable students to study at night and teachers to hold evening workshops and community meetings.

All in all…it was a wonderful day! Hal Aronson, Program Director of We Share Solar and Co-Founder of We Care Solar, explained that “We Share Solar serves youth twice…first as an educational experience for American youth and second as a renewable power and lighting system for youth in parts of the world that lack electricity.”