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MLK Day of Service to be marked by learning, sharing at The Tech Museum of Innovation Bay Area Students to build “Solar Suitcases” to power schools in Africa

Press Release Date 
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
“Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
 ― Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
SAN JOSE, CA – On a day dedicated to embracing the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of service, nearly 50 Bay Area students and their families will build “solar suitcases” earmarked for Sierra Leone, where the life-changing kits will literally bring light to desperately poor West African schools.
The Tech Museum of Innovation in partnership with WE CARE Solar (Women’s Emergency Communication and Reliable Electricity) has launched the “We Share Solar Suitcase” assembly program, which links science and technology with international philanthropy and service. The dynamic initiative, the first of its kind, is meant to improve students’ STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and solar energy knowledge while raising awareness of energy poverty in the developing world.
“The We Share Solar Suitcase program is a great example of how we can use the power of technology and innovation to improve lives,” said The Tech President Tim Ritchie. “The partnership between The Tech and WE CARE Solar marks another important step for the museum as we move toward the fulfillment of our core values, which include making a positive difference in the world.”
Middle- and high-school students and their families will spend the day in the newly opened The Tech Studio learning about solar power engineering before wiring and configuring the portable solar power systems. The kits will be donated to schools that have no electricity in Sierra Leone through the non-profit Schools for Salone.
“Like all of us, students are excited by the idea that their hard work makes a difference for students who have fewer resources than their American counterparts,” said Hal Aronson, project director of We Share Solar and co-founder of WE CARE Solar. “Students are very motivated by knowing that the solar energy systems they are building will power lights and computers for students whose schools and homes go dark once the sun goes down.”
The We Share Solar Suitcase is an easy-to-use, easy-to-transport, complete solar electric system. Increased energy efficiency in lights makes it possible to illuminate a classroom with only 15 watts of electricity. The kit includes a battery, a 20-watt solar panel, a charge controller, switches and wiring.  The kit can be expanded to provide up to 200 watts of solar power.
We Share Solar is a project of WE CARE Solar, a Berkeley non-profit whose co-founders, Aronson and Laura Stachel are 2011 The Tech Awards laureates. Dedicated to improving maternal health care in the developing world, WE CARE Solar has deployed more than 200 solar suitcases around the world.
Applied Materials, Inc., has provided funding for the solar suitcases to be constructed for the MLK day program at the museum.
WHO/WHAT: Nearly 50 Bay Area students converge at The Tech to build “solar suitcases” for schools in West Africa
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., January 21, 2013, the national MLK DAY of SERVICE
WHERE: The Tech Museum of Innovation, 201 S. Market, San Jose
Roqua Montez

Director Public Relations

(408) 795-6225
Hal Aronson
Project Director, We Share Solar
(510) 665.7747
Gigi Goldman
We Share Solar Program Advisor
About The Tech Museum of Innovation
The Tech is a hands-on technology and science museum for people of all ages and backgrounds. The museum—located in the Capital of Silicon Valley —is a non-profit, experiential learning resource established to engage people in exploring and experiencing applied technologies affecting their lives. Through programs such as The Tech Challenge presented by Cisco, our annual team-design competition for youth, and internationally renowned programs such as The Tech Awards presented by Applied Materials, The Tech endeavors to inspire the innovator in everyone.