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Founded in 1979, Solar Oregon is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit membership organization providing public education and community outreach to encourage Oregonians to choose solar energy.
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Renewable Energy Technologies Come Into Focus

By Gauri Kambhatla
8th Grade, Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School

We see it all around us. Every single day, when we look up in the sky, when we go to the beach, when we see leaves rustling in the wind. Renewable energy is in and can be used from all these places, from the giant gas ball above our heads to the waves crashing against the shore. It can be used from the hot water under our feet to the wind blowing through valleys high in the mountains. We all know what renewable energy is. Of course we do. But do we really? How do we capture this energy? How do we convert it into electricity? How does it work, what are the systems like? Do they work the same way every day despite the time of year, the climate, the elevation?

My name is Gauri Kambhatla, and I am an 8th grade student at Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School. I was interested in renewable energy and I wanted answers to questions like the ones above. So I decided to do the yearlong project that all 8th grade students at our school have to do, on renewable energy, focusing on solar, wind, and wave energy. This project contains four major parts; community service, mentorship, research, and data analysis.

I started the year looking to find someone in the field of renewable energy who could be my mentor. Eventually, I contacted Emily Krafft from Solar Oregon. Letting me interview her and giving me information were only a few things she has done to help me. I also volunteered with Solar Oregon during two Fix It Fairs. I helped her and others talk about solar energy to others. I really enjoyed this because it gave me a chance to meet people and talk about things that I learned. Later on, I made a display board about solar, wind, and wave energy and presented it at OMSI. I think that most people who came learned at least something new. In addition, I surveyed people all around Beaverton, OR. The goal of the survey was to see what the general knowledge was about renewable energy in our area. Unfortunately, my results were not exactly the best. Besides a few people, no one knew all that much. While at least some of the solar and wind energy questions were answered correctly, pretty much everyone missed the wave energy questions, but this didn’t really surprise me because wave energy is still a bit new.

From my research, my survey, my volunteering, my presentation, and especially from my mentor- Emily, I learned many, many things. While before, I only had a vague idea how exactly renewable energy is used, I now have a clear picture. Not that the picture is complete. There is still so much that I can learn, that I hope to learn, in the future. I hope that renewable energy will continue to become more advanced and that these will eventually become the only energy sources we use.


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