Phototropism: The movement of an organism in response to light.
Our proposal for the Penn State 2015 Class Gift Solar Array focused on this idea of phototropism and drawing from nature as inspiration. We proposed that instead of building a standard car cover array in some out-of-the-way parking lot, this array should be something visible, beautiful, and educational.
The arboretum, with its reputation as an outdoor classroom and its abundance of phototropic organisms, provided the perfect space for our array. The array was a series of single panel rows, supported by a compound arc rail and single posts every 30 feet. The arc of the rail held the panels up at a 30° angle and then tilted the row of panel so that each panel would be optimized to a different time of day on the equinox. This allows visitors to track the sun across the panels and learn about how the sun moves across the sky and the effect this has on solar energy, both in photovoltaics and in plant life.
This project was selected as 1 of 4 finalists. No winner was selected due to cancellation of the project.
Team Members: Andrew Vargo, Chris Frey , Melanie Ray, Kirk Diamond, Jordan Crolly