Students at Cyprus Classical Academy work on energy conservation project

Students at Cyprus Classical Academy in Burnsville help install school's new building control system

For many elementary schools, STEM programs consist of textbooks, online research and classroom experiments. For the students of Cyprus Classical Academy in Burnsville, STEM recently got real. This spring, 8- and 9-year-old students installed the school’s HVAC control system through a partnership with 75F, a local building automation company.

Cyprus teachers saw this installation as an opportunity to teach their students about the real-world applications of STEM, including the importance of energy efficiency and air quality. The renovation not only created a unique learning experience for the students—the new system could save Cyprus nearly 50% annually on their HVAC energy expenses.

Watch the students set up the system here:


“Cyprus Classical Academy offers one of the most unique, advanced and rigorous learning environments in Minnesota,” said Michelle Wallick, principal of Cyprus Schools. “Discovering and partnering with the local building automation company was a fantastic fit for us—we are now able to solve a real challenge for our school building while giving our students a STEM experience they can’t get anywhere else.”

Like many older buildings in the Midwest, Cyprus Classical Academy’s 13,500 sq. ft. location deals with hot and cold spots and rooms feeling stuffy. Based on classroom layouts, large windows, insulation and inefficient placement of thermostats, the school’s HVAC expenses were very high and temperature comfort was difficult to maintain.

“Cyprus Classical Academy deals with a lot of HVAC issues that we see in many aging buildings here in the Midwest,” said Deepinder Singh, CEO of 75F. “After some simple measurements, our team knew immediately that we could save the school thousands of dollars every year by installing smart HVAC controls, while improving air quality and comfort.”

Cyprus students met with 75F technicians to discuss HVAC concepts and challenges. They analyzed the building and observed how the system was configured. For the students, one of the highlights was drilling holes in their classroom walls to install sensors and running up step ladders to install equipment in the ceiling.

Wait, how did a bunch of kids set up a building controls system? For the 8- and 9-year-old kids accustomed to playing with touch devices all day long, setting up the system was intuitive. After watching an instructional video, the students paired the sensors and control units together through the school Wi-Fi. They even hand drew a floor plan of the school and uploaded it to the 75F portal as a part of the commissioning process.

As of June 2, about 40% of the project is complete. Additional student-led installations are planned throughout the summer for the remaining classrooms. So far the students are pretty excited about the project results—see for yourself below!

Also, if you’re wondering how a group of adults at a local business might work so well with students, we think this 5-second video from them says it all. You might need to watch it about 15 times like we did…

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