Throwing Solar Shade®

Throwing Solar Shade®

After schools go solar with us on campus, we help them make the most of their clean energy with educational resources to turn solar power into an exciting learning opportunity for their students, including standards-based classroom curricula, student materials, and teacher training for both public and independent schools. And all at no extra cost. One of our most comprehensive educational offerings is our innovative high school program, Throwing Solar Shade® (TSS).

Emily Betts, science teacher at Open High School in Richmond, visits Huguenot High School with Secure Futures staff and her class.
Emily Betts, science teacher at Open High School in Richmond, visits Huguenot High School with Secure Futures staff and her class.

Throwing Solar Shade® is now a 12-week program consisting of hands-on STEM curriculum and project-based learning opportunities that allow high school students to become citizen scientists as they evaluate real-world climate issues in their communities and develop potential solutions. Our curriculum was developed in conjunction with the National Energy Education Development Project (NEED) and the research of a PhD climate scientist, Jeremy Hoffman, on the urban heat-island effect

Launched as a pilot program in 2019 with two school divisions, Richmond and Augusta County, Throwing Solar Shade paused during the pandemic. On its return in 2022, the program was expanded to an innovative partnership of one independent school, the Collegiate School in Richmond, and four public school divisions across Virginia: Richmond City Public Schools, Augusta County Public Schools, Lee County Public Schools, and Wise County Public Schools. Students have opportunities to collaborate across district lines, compete for a scholarship award, and present their final research to educators and leaders from across Virginia. At the end of the 2022 program, students from all schools had the chance to meet in person and share what they had learned in person at the Science Museum of Virginia.

Students present their final projects at the Throwing Solar Shade® Presentation Day event in 2022 at The Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond

Through this program, Secure Solar Futures provides teacher training, support, and stipends; curriculum aligned with state standards and necessary equipment; scholarship award for winning group; opportunity and funding for students to travel and present their research at a final, celebratory event.

Throwing Solar Shade has received praise from education experts in the public and private sectors. For example:

Educators learn about using mini solar modules during teacher training another educational offering of Secure Solar Futures.

The Throwing Solar Shade 10-week program enabled over 40 high school students to enhance their STEM learning and increase their 5 C’s (communication, citizenship, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity) won rave reviews from students, teachers, and school administrators for the quality of program, as attested by a third-party evaluation team from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Elizabeth Walker Green, Virginia State Director, U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Rural Development

I can verify that Throwing Solar Shade is the most innovative, applicable, and exciting curriculum I have seen to engage students in clean energy, climate science, and related topics.

Tish Tablan, Program Director, Generation 180

I actually learned a lot myself, just going along with them through the material… I think they came away with a lot better understanding of how electrical currents work, how electricity can be produced, and I think they came out with a much better understanding of conserving energy and engineering.

TSS Teacher, 2022

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Sample Projects

  • Students take a drone photo of themselves as they fly the craft above a school in Augusta County, Virginia.

    Augusta County Schools

    A curriculum that evolves with the sun in Augusta


    Solar panels on campus have helped Augusta County’s schools integrate clean energy into their curricula through the Throwing Solar Shade® program.

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  • Solar panels are seen on multiple parts of the roof on a Richmond City Schools campus.

    Richmond City Schools

    Seeing the future in Virginia’s capital

    2.87 MEGAWATTS

    Along with the installation of solar panels on 10 campuses, Richmond Public Schools received a $100,000 grant from the RVA Solar Fund.

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