December 08, 2015
On the morning of December 2, 2015, an otherwise quiet West Sacramento neighborhood burst into activity as a bus load of 24 River City High School students arrived before two neighboring homes with roofs already staged for solar installation. Sedikeh Yusufi, the instructor at River City High, with support from the Yolo County Office of Education and the city of West Sacramento, has brought her classes out for the past three semesters, so students can get a unique hands on-learning experience from the Solar Futures Program with GRID Alternatives in the North Valley.
After donning white GRID volunteer t-shirts and hard hats, the students were introduced to the construction and outreach staff and listened to the morning safety talk presented by North Valley’s Solar Installation Supervisors Liam McSweeney and Sergio Coronel. Next the students were introduced to the fundamentals of site plans with a brief worksheet assignment, which helped familiarize them with terms and concepts of basic solar design, before breaking off into four groups to get their hands on some tools.
The construction site had four distinct field lessons that covered a range of skill specific activities. Station one include SnapNRack demonstrations, where rails were cut with a bandsaw and spliced together. Station two was a roof demo-board which included a rail mounted junction box and centered around hands-on wiring activities. Station three was an introduction to conduit bending, cutting and joining. In station four, students learned to draw a roof plan, snap chalk lines and mark the edges of an array. After approximately thirty minutes at a station, the groups rotated, with the goal that each student would be able to participate in learning the various skills involved in solar installation.
Additionally, the students were able to assist in the two installations happening congruently by testing and passing solar modules up to the roof teams, keeping work areas clean, handing up items needed on the roof and helping to bend the conduit needed to connect the main service panels to the conduit run previously secured under the eaves of the houses in preparation for the wire pull.
The two households involved in the install each provided wonderful home cooked meals enjoyed by the students and staff alike among conversations and laughter. The day culminated with the River City High group posing all together for a photo in front of one of the homes, before the group returned back to their campus.
On December 3, a team of GRID Workforce and Construction staff visited the fourth period of the River City High School bringing the field lessons inside due to the rain. In the classroom the four lessons of rail splicing, conduit bending, wiring and array drawing were condensed into fifteen minute sessions. Four groups of students enjoyed using the bandsaw, taking a crack at bending conduit, using wire strippers and designing a rooftop plan on their classroom floor causing the last period of the day to fly by in active learning.