Like many Americans, Sean Krieg decided to take a hard look at his energy consumption in an effort to lower his energy bills. Then, when he read more about the benefits of energy conservation, especially as they relate to the environment, he was sold.
"Ive always known about the topic of global warming and climate change, but I think as individuals, we often feel theres nothing we can do," Krieg told Education World. "I hope our students believe they can make a difference. It is a great feeling for kids."
Krieg's eighth graders from Grand Avenue Middle School in Bellmore, New York, should be convinced that they can make a difference; theyve already had a positive impact on the environment. Their 90-person Team Dakota changed more than 235 standard light bulbs to more energy efficient CFL or LED bulbs as part of the One Billion Bulbs initiative.
The action was part of a conservation unit that contained several activities, like calculating how much power would be saved if every person in the country switched one bulb to a CFL, creating posters with ten easy ways to save energy at home, writing letters about environmental issues to local politicians, studying the electrical use of common appliances, and reading current articles about energy conservation, recycling, alternative energy, and global warming. The students also viewed An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore's movie about climate change.
Of all the science units hes taught recently, Krieg's students have shown the most interest in the topic of conservation. He thinks students become motivated by the intangible rewards that come from doing something important.
"In terms of a global issue, the energy conservation unit is something that allows kids to make an immediate impact," Krieg observed. "All through the unit, Ive had kids coming up and telling me about things theyve done at home to save energy. More importantly, I think the kids get their parents involved in the whole process. The family talks about it around the dinner table, and thats a good thing."
This year, Krieg plans to expand the energy conservation unit to get more parents involved early in the school year and increase recycling efforts at the school. Students will do recycling analysis in the cafeteria, collect used batteries, and promote a "green" lifestyle. Saving energy will be a year-long theme in science, math, social studies, and English.
"Once you start saving energy, it becomes a challenge, and you begin to look all around the house for ways to save energy," added Krieg. "Thats what its all about. Once people start thinking like that, a major impact will be made, but it starts with one person at a time."
Article by Cara Bafile
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