06/26/2013 03:54 pm ET Updated Aug 26, 2013

Fourth Graders Power Their Classroom With Solar Energy

A group of fourth graders in Durham, North Carolina, are showing America the way to a clean energy future.

After learning all about solar and other energy sources, Aaron Sebens -- a teacher at Central Park School for Children -- and his fourth grade class came up with a bold idea: make their classroom solar-powered.

The video documents the students' journey from idea to reality -- leading up to a celebratory party where Aaron and his students officially "flip-the-switch" on their solar powered classroom. To fund the project, Aaron's class launched a crowd-funding campaign that garnered support across America and around the world. The students originally hoped to raise $800 but significantly beat expectations -- raising more than $5,000.

The promise of solar energy extends far beyond one classroom in Durham. Everyday, as the director of the Energy Department's Solar Program, I get to witness the impact this industry is having across America. As the students' project shows -- solar is more within reach than ever before. Because of the investments we've made as a nation, the solar industry is now one of the fastest growing job markets in the country. The sector continues to grow at an unprecedented pace -- accounting for nearly half of all new U.S. electricity capacity over the first three months of 2013.

It's clear we're making progress in advancing America's clean energy future, but the students in the video remind us that we have to do more. At the Energy Department we're committed to driving innovations to make America's abundant solar energy resources more affordable and accessible for Americans. Let's continue working together to create opportunities for more businesses, communities and classrooms across the country to tap into this clean, renewable and inexhaustible energy source.

Stay up to date on the Energy Department's efforts to make solar power cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade by visiting our solar page on