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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

5 Reasons to Implement Student-Involved Energy Audits and Improvements in K12 Schools

Outlet Vampire 1Image by PNNL - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory via FlickrVampires in the Classroom?
No, I'm not writing about Twilight, although my teenage daughter would definitely approve.
We're discussing conducting a school wide energy audit as part of the module I do on Excel spreadsheets. By purchasing voltage meters that tell us how much energy each device consumes and evaluating some of the new reduced energy consumption power meters -- aptly called "vampires" because they suck down the energy consumption requirements of devices plugged into them.
It is really time to look at our energy consumption at schools and truly implement some methods to reduce energy consumption.
5 Reasons to Implement Student-Involved Energy Audits and Improvements in K12 Schools

1 - We are modeling for the future.
Children need to see us grappling with this issue. They don't do what we say, they do what we DO.
2 - Create teachable moments by involving students
Students can be involved in this. Auditing energy requirements. Graphing consumption. Created charts. Doing research. Presenting findings to committees of parents and administrators. Getting creative. This sort of thing is often done by EAST Program initiatives in Arkansas (See Hampton East's Student Energy Team Initiative) and with great success and Bucktown Elementary made the news with their wind turbine on the room.
If you want to teach it -- do it. 

3- Foster STEM Project based learning.
If you want the ideal STEM PBL project - this is it! Science Technology, Engineering and Math require application to become real. Often it is this sort of project that turns kids onto a technical education.  Make these subjects real.

4 - The habits kids have now become lifelong.
Good intentions don't create good habits. Just look at the 60% of us in the US who are obese. (I'm so excited that I will no longer be considered "obese" in about 4 pounds!)
We are leaving lights on, leaving computers on, wasting energy left and right. What does that tell our students? It tells them that we talk about being environmentally friendly but don't really believe it.  Kids want real genuine commitment.

The society of tomorrow will reap the habits we sow into their lives and minds today.(Programs like Pacific Light and Gas' Energenius Program have good information.)

5 - It can save money.

In the long run it can save money! Energy audits are just good business sense and should be done whether students are involved or not.

Some things we're going to look at: X.10 technology for automating electrical devices, vampires and "green" power devices, auditing power settings of computers, motion activated lighting, as well as possibilities of solar. It may or may not happen, but with my students involved - who knows?
Time to get busy.
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