Bring Energy to Your Classroom
October 22, 2021
I’m a fairly warm-blooded person. You need to be when you grow up in the Midwest. During the winter you’re either buried under snow or sheared by the wind depending on what side of the lake you’re on. I’m also a bit thrifty (aka cheap). I’d rather risk a stubbed toe by feeling around a dark room than pay to turn on the lights.
With the winter months now on the horizon, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about energy. “How can I maximize daylight so I don’t turn on lights?”, “How low can I set my thermostat?”, “Is my collection of ultra-duty hoodies enough to keep me from catching hypothermia?” While I’m mostly joking, the reality is that I’m not alone when it comes to thinking about the cost of energy. The average household spends a sizable chunk of its income paying for power, and schools are no exception.
Get Fired Up
While we may not realize it, electricity and energy are a massive part of our students’ lives. Many who come from low-income families have probably found themselves rationing their light to avoid hefty bills. At school, a good portion of the budget is earmarked for electricity. We all know that if it’s a choice between sponsoring a club or keeping the lights on…well, students will just have to find a different hobby. And if things weren’t already complicated enough, too much energy use is bad for the environment!
Imagine if thousands of students just like yours, all around the country, started making smart choices about energy consumption and shared that knowledge with others. While it’s not their responsibility to solve the world’s energy problems, there are still things we can do to help them approach this issue and seek out practical solutions. So, with a little help from Blue Apple’s High Energy, here are a few educational activities you can use to get your class fired-up about saving energy!
- Commit a Federal Offense: Right before class, mix equal parts water and rubbing alcohol (a little less than ½ cup each). Soak a dollar bill in the mixture until it’s totally wet. Then (while holding the dollar bill with a pair of tongs) inform your students that it’s actually against the law to willingly burn money. When done properly, a flame will briefly engulf the bill, but will not consume it. Use this activity to “spark” student interest in energy consumption and explain how power costs can have schools “burning” through money.
- Screw in a Lightbulb: Have your class write down as many things as they know about light bulbs. Next, inform them that there is an ongoing debate whether to replace the old incandescent light bulb with new models like the CFL light bulb. Explain that the new bulbs are supposed to be more efficient because they require less energy but give off the same amount of light. Finally, use this investigation to determine which bulb is better!
- Perform an Energy Audit: Inform students that in this activity, they will be looking at ways the school might save money. Using this School Energy Audit sheet, have students take a brief walk around their school and consider where it’s using the most power. Then, have them calculate how many kwh would be saved, as well as the money saved each month, if they implemented power-saving solutions.
- Investigate Architecture: Did you know that certain architects have learned how to build structures that are more energy efficient? Watch this video from the Mathison architects and discover how they create building which responsibly support humans while cutting down their dependence on energy.
Supercharge Your Learning
While the big questions surrounding the costs of energy remain to be answered, these activities can introduce the subject to your students in a way that’s memorable, meaningful, and fun. Be sure to check out the other resources in High Energy and use them to teach students how to become responsible consumers. With any luck, your class will help protect the environment and their school’s pocketbook at the same time!