In 2018, the physics classes of Horizon Science Academy – McKinley Park (HSA) partnered with El Paseo Community Garden to facilitate a multidisciplinary project on energy and sustainability for HSA’s high school juniors and seniors. This project was made possible through a grant from the Epstein Community Foundation. In this project, students designed and constructed five solar arrays to power various electrical systems in community gardens around Southwest Chicago—communities in which our students and their families live and work. Gardens included: Hermitage Street Community Garden, Heartland Alliance FarmWorks, McKinley Park Play Garden, Semillas de Justicia, and El Paseo Community Garden. These solar arrays provide the gardens with at least 100 kW hours of energy per season.
The physics class of HSA comprises of 128 11th and 12th graders spanning a wide range of skills and abilities. Students were provided with foundational knowledge of science through engaging, purposeful experiences. Through this project, students were exposed to career pathways in STEM and applied their learning to develop real solutions and see their work being used outside the classroom and in the community. Students also connected with science, engineering, and business professionals, receiving coaching and mentorship throughout the program.