Last month the Department of Energy (DOE) and National Science Teachers Association (disclaimer: I am a former member of the NSTA) launched a cooperative effort to reduce energy consumption. Christened America’s Home Energy Education Challenge, the goal of the effort is to engage young people in their energy usage. According to the post on the DOE’s blog, the challenge “is designed to harness the imagination and enthusiasm of America’s students to encourage home energy efficiency.”
Secretary of Energy, Stephen Chu was quoted as saying “‘Energy efficiency is all about helping families save money by saving energy.’” The program is aimed at students in grades 3-8, with the competition taking place this fall as students attempt “to reduce energy waste in their homes by recording their energy consumption data for three months. Then, that data will be compared to energy usage data from the same time period a year ago. These teams will collectively challenge other teams in their community, and then compete regionally and even nationally to see who are the best energy savings champions.”
School principals and teachers can register between now and September 30, 2011. Data will be collected from September through December, with awards announced in January of next year.
According to the competition’s homepage, “America’s Home Energy Education Challenge is designed to 1) educate students across the United States in grades 3-8 about energy and the benefits of energy efficiency, 2) teach students to recognize that lowering their home energy use saves money and 3) engage students and their families in a save energy, save money initiative.” The challenge “aims to enhance and extend existing energy-focused programs, provide specific home energy-saving tips, and make materials that support the learning of science and energy available to schools. Participating schools compete for more than $200,000 in prizes distributed at the regional and national levels of the competition.” The competition is divided into 11 regions throughout the country.
In addition to the Home Energy Challenge, students can participate in the Energy Fitness Award, which is modeled after the President’s Fitness Challenge. The Energy Fitness Award is an online quiz. Students can help their school earn credit toward prizes if they register through their school. All participants are eligible for an individual fitness badge. Home school students are also encouraged to take part.