By Marielle Mohs

HOPKINS, Minn. (WCCO) — On Friday, 60 students at Hopkins West Junior High learned just how powerful the sun can be.

“If we collected all the energy that the sun was emitting down to us for a day, it would supply the world for a year,” said Emily Todd, a seventh-grader.

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These student also learned that all you need is a little suitcase to utilize it’s strength.

“Today we made switches for solar suitcases that we’re sending to Kenya,” said Lilyanna Hoskins, a ninth-grader.

(credit: CBS)

A U of M student is partnering with “We Share Solar,” and she’s taking nine solar-powered suitcases that were built in Hopkins to Kenyan villages that specifically lack electricity.

“In Kenya, the sun sets at 6, so if you can imagine after that when it’s dark…kids can’t do their homework, council members can’t have their meetings,” said Irina Kornberg, the U of M student who raised $20,000 to buy the nine suitcases to bring to Kenya later this year.

Kornberg says it was important for her to get kids involved in building the suitcases to use it as a teaching moment.

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“I feel proud of myself for doing something like this for kids in Kenya,” said Halima Aden, a seventh-grader.

The students learned that not everyone in this world is lucky enough to have guaranteed electricity to light up rooms and charge their phones and computers.

“I’m learning all this stuff I realize how many people don’t have these types of things,” said Haley Chau, a seventh-grader.

For Mohamed Ahmed, a seventh-grader from Somalia, this project is personal.

“There was one whole night where we didn’t have light or energy in the whole town and it was a very scary night then,” said Ahmed. “It makes me feel very good inside that I’m helping my own community.”

The hope is to keep fundraising and bring more suitcases down to villages in Africa in the future.

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To learn more about and contribute to the “We Share Solar” projects, click here. the

Marielle Mohs