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Back to March Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 278 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS MARCH 2009

Solar Panel Manufacturer Teaches Children
about Global Warming and Solar Power
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Sharp Electronics Corporation has begun a new program to teach American elementary-school children about climate change. Sharp, one of the world's largest manufacturers of solar panels, spins the program with special emphasis on the importance and benefits of solar energy.

Stewart Mitchell, chief strategy officer for Sharp, is quite frank about how the program is supposed to work. "The big picture is, you really want to try to tie your focus on social responsibility as a company into your business model," he told the New York Times. "The more that students learn about climate change, and the more they learn about the importance of renewable energy — it ties back to feeding into our business model of being in the solar business." Mitchell started the American version of the Solar Academy program in October of 2008. So far, the program has reached a handful of elementary schools in California, New York and New Jersey. In Japan, 50,000 students at 700 schools have already gone through the Solar Academy program.

The opening slide of Sharp's presentation shows a cartoon of a sick planet Earth with a thermometer in its mouth. "It turns out that the temperature of the Earth is actually rising," Sharp employee Martha Harvey recently told a class of 5th-graders in Mahwah, New Jersey. Harvey went on to teach the children about solar panels through a short movie and a demonstration. She sent students home at the end of the presentation with workbooks and solar-powered calculators made by Sharp.

Science teachers at Joyce Kilmer Elementary School were enthusiastic about the Solar Academy. No one seemed to see any problem with presenting a one-sided view of the science of climate change in order to market a specific product to future consumers. (New York Times, 2-2-09)


 
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