Horizon Science Academy students work to build photovoltaic panels for installation in local sites, including the McKinley Park Play Garden.

Horizon Students Build Solar Panels to Power Play Garden

Published April 12, 2018

Students from the Horizon Science Academy have built and are installing solar power for the McKinley Park Play Garden and four other locations, part of the school's Green Power for Green Spaces program for high school juniors and seniors.

A joint program between the school and the El Paseo Community Garden in the Pilsen neighborhood, its goal is to both expose students to practical experience in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields and also connect students to community organizations, said Horizon Principal Cafer Cengiz.

"Their experience not only built on their knowledge of physics, but increased their awareness of community opportunities" and emboldens them to participate in the community, he said.

Supported by a $5,000 grant from the Epstein Community Foundation, the program also will build and install solar panel arrays at the El Paseo Community Garden, Semillas de Justica in the Little Village neighborhood, Chicago Farmworks in the East Garfield Park neighborhood and the Hermitage Street Community Garden in the Englewood neighborhood.

Horizon's physics teacher, Jonathan Lazatin, collaborated with Executive Directors Antonio and Paula Acevedo of El Paseo Community Garden to design the project.

The Epstein foundation noted the high percentage of Latino and low-income students at the school as a reason for support. "By partnering with community gardens, [the school] is working to foster the future generation’s leadership in sustainability and helping local community partners," said a statement from the foundation.

This Sunday morning, April 15, the McKinley Park Play Garden seeks help from across the community for its Play Garden Planting Day, when new plants will get installed as part of the project, slated to open fully in the summer of 2018.

Horizon Science Academy students test one of the photovoltaic panels as part of the Green Power for Green Spaces project.
Horizon Science Academy students test one of the photovoltaic panels as part of the Green Power for Green Spaces project.


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