South Florida electrician Kent Crook of Wiremasters Electric wanted to make a difference and get children thinking about the importance of solar power for the future, so to capture their interest and imaginations he created a superhero called “Mr. Solar.”
Garbed in his costume, he attends area events and works with the schools to get out the message.
“My main goal really with the Mr. Solar costume is to help educate kids and get the kids into solar and make them have an interest in it,” Crook said. “I’ve used it also in three of the parades so far — the Falls parade, the South Miami parade and also the Junior Orange Bowl parade. I also had a bunch of comic books made up, not with him in it but to educate kids on renewable energy so they can understand what it’s all about.” Crook said that he thinks it is important to plan now for the future.
“To make it happen we have to get policy change, and the only way to get policy change is to get the right elected officials in those seats, and it’s either the kids’ parents or they grow up to be those elected officials,” he said.
Making the costume wasn’t the easiest thing in the world for several reasons, but he found ways to overcome the problems.
“Well, the cost factor was No. 1, and two, because I wanted his cape and his gloves to look like solar panels,” Crook said. “If those were blue or red it would have been no problem. But because I wanted them to appear to be a solar panel that was a challenge.”
He will be attending the Taste of Pinecrest and the Earth Day events as Mr. Solar, both in April, and appear at an upcoming yet-to-be-scheduled event about the PACE Program with Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall and Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Crook also donated a number of solar panels to area schools, working with science educator and CLEO Institute advisor Wafa Khalil, PhD.
Dr. Khalil recently retired from the public school system and now does volunteer work. For 15 years she wrote the school curricula for solar energy at MAST Academy.
“Now I am trying to integrate solar education into the various schools in the Pinecrest area,” Dr. Khalil said. “It happened that I knew Kent when I was at MAST Academy. We had some solar programs with the kids and he came to my events. We got connected there and when I retired he called one day and told me he had 20 panels, 75 watts each, that he wanted to donate to the schools.”
The solar panels were divided among Palmetto Elementary, Howard Drive Elementary, Pinecrest Elementary, Palmetto Middle School and Palmetto High.
“I’m working at each of the schools and so far we have installed a complete project which is a small solar generator,” Dr. Khalil said. “Also, in addition to donating the panels, Kent Crook agreed on donating $500 toward the materials, the various equipment and devices needed for the project. It was a very generous donation on his part.”
She said that the project building the solar powered generators has the students very excited and even the teachers are excited.
“The students are extremely interested and enthusiastic about solar power,” Dr. Khalil said. “We are also talking about energy conservation, solar cars and other devices that run on solar power.
It’s great exposure for them.”