I know how hard it is to get young kids out of the house to go somewhere - even quick outings require you to pack enough snacks, diapers, and toys to make you think you’ll be gone for a week. And who wants to wrestle kids in and out of carseats just to find out that your destination isn’t kid-friendly? That’s why I’ve decided to visit Triangle area sites to see if they’re worth your trip. I won’t use a rating system but I’ll try to describe what you’ll see well enough for you to decide if your kids would find it interesting. I’ll also give you the heads up on bathrooms, stroller accessibility and any other SNAFUs I encounter.


NC State Solar House - NC State Campus

rear of the house

       Imagine walking into a stranger's beautifully furnished and decorated house to see a woman emerge from one of the rooms - furnished as a home office - to greet you. Or imagine visiting a model home that's located on a college campus. If you can imagine either one of those scenarios then you can understand what it was like to visit the Solar House on the NC State Campus.

      The house is located next to the McKimmon Center on NC State's Campus. It is a completely furnished and functional house with all of the customary appliances. The only difference is that this house is equipped to run off of energy generated from the sun.That doesn't mean that it always runs off the sun, though. As we found out, it has to be super sunny for the photovoltaic panels in the backyard to gather enough energy to power the house. The day we visited it was only slightly overcast, which did not create enough direct sunlight to keep the house off the grid. 

      This is not an attraction for young children or the merely curious. If you want to learn how to design your house to make full use of solar power, then this is the place to visit. But if that description does not fit, it's probably not worth the trip. None of the technology inside the house is exposed, and there are no viewable cross-sections which would allow the visitor to see how the house works. There is only one solar experiment - a small solar panel that powers a palm-sized fan - in the basement of the house. Frankly, my preschooler was more intrigued by the spiral staircase in the back of the house - a feature that has nothing to do with solar energy.

       If you want to introduce your kids to the benefits of solar energy, skip the NC State Solar House and go buy one of those solar-powered car kits and head out to a local park on a sunny day. Your kids will be much more engaged and you'll probably have more fun too.

1 comment:

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