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Soaking up the Sun: Solar Faire offers sustainable energy takeaways

April 21, 2014|By Sameea Kamal, sameea.kamal@latimes.com
  • Ellie Escobar and Saku Yoshioka, both 12, and students at Woodrow Wilson Middle School, use magnifying glasses to etch artwork into pieces of wood. Escobar said she learned from the activity that "the sun can power anything electricity can."
Ellie Escobar and Saku Yoshioka, both 12, and students… (Photo by Sameea…)

Solar ovens. Solar artwork. Solar phone chargers. Out of electricity? No problem. You can still power up.

That was the lesson many took away at the third annual Solar Faire, hosted by Glendale Water & Power in partnership with Sebastopol, Calif.-based nonprofit the Rahus Institute and the Glendale Unified School District.

This year’s festival, which took place on Saturday at Woodrow Wilson Middle School, featured hands-on workshops where participants could build their own solar ovens, create solar etchings and watch demonstrations of solar power, such as how to power up a solar fountain.

More than 300 people attended the free fair, held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., which featured quesadillas and cookies basked on a solar oven, as well as vendors providing information about residential solar power.

It was the second year of attendance for Glendale residents Vishal Goel and Ashima Gupta, one of 11 families who signed up to build solar ovens.

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“My wife did 80% of the work,” Goel said. They brought their 5-year-old daughter Avishi, to “learn the concept of how important it is to save the planet,” he said.

The couple was so inspired after attending last year’s event they had solar panels installed on their home.

“It is the responsibility of people from our generation to make sure the kinds of things we are enjoying — this nature and mountains and all these green things, we want to make sure our next generation can enjoy these things,” he said.

Goel and Gupta learned about the event through a Glendale Water and Power newsletter.

“[Building the oven] was a little difficult, we are not very handy, but the volunteers were really helpful,” Gupta said. “Hopefully we will actually use it.”

“We will use it,” Goel responded. “We’re going camping in May and we’re going to take it with us.”

Woodrow Wilson Middle School sixth-grade teacher Elizabeth Bitow, who teaches math and science was one of the festival’s main organizers.

Bitow attended a weeklong Solar Schoolhouse workshop about six years ago in Northern California and said she was so inspired, she started teaching her students about solar energy. And after a solar energy event took place at Mark Keppel Elementary, the math and science teacher wanted to bring a similar event to the middle school.

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