Sixth graders around Colorado are bringing the classroom home and as a result, are teaching their parents a thing or two about energy conservation via the “Energy Efficiency Take Action Kit” from Xcel Energy and the National Energy Foundation, 11- and 12-year-olds from Denver to Grand Junction are not only learning about the newest devices to save energy but are also giving their moms and dads an education in energy awareness.
This marks the 6th year (and the first year they have teamed up with the NEF) that Xcel Energy has supplied junior high and middle schools with kits that contain a variety of devices designed to save energy and water. According to Brandon Patterson, program administrator for the National Energy Foundation, Xcel has placed 38,625 kits in schools in the Denver metro area, Fort Collins, Sterling, Grand Junction and Alamosa. In all, 247 schools have received the boxes; another 143 schools will have the kits delivered in the spring. “The goal is to teach families about energy usage and how they can save water,” Patterson said. “The products in the kits are designed to educate children on energy, water, natural resources, technology, conservation and the environment.
The boxes this year contain an assortment of compact fluorescent light bulbs that last longer, are brighter and save energy. Furthermore, the new slimmer design allow the bulbs in fit easily in any socket. According to Xcel Energy, CFLs reduce energy for lighting in your home by 50 to 75 percent and can last up to ten times longer than traditional bulbs.
In addition to the light bulbs, the kit includes a high efficiency, lower flow shower head, kitchen and bath faucet aerators, leak detectors for toilets, a filter whistle to alert homeowners when a furnace filter needs to be replaced, a LED floodlight, a small digital thermometer with a suction cup to measure the temperature in a refrigerator or freezer and an LED night light. The retail value of the kit is $40.
The products are designed to start a conversation between students and parents about methods of saving energy whether it’s turning down the thermostat when no one is home or installing energy efficient light bulbs throughout the house.
Amy Weeks, a 6th grade science teacher at West Middle School in the Cherry Creek School District, has incorporated the energy kit into the ecology and natural resources curriculum. One of the activities for students is to count the number of light bulbs in each room of their house or apartment, and determine how much money can be saved by using energy efficient light bulbs.
“Our students really get into it,” said Weeks. “I make sure I leave 5-10 minutes at the end of each period because there is so much discussion going on between the students and the devices that are in the kit. There is good conversation and action on their part.”
An added plus is that the kits align with the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math requirements, and Common Core standards that schools must meet.
Patterson says that Xcel has been very pleased with the response from the schools and teachers, and the parents. The program has so far been launched in Xcel service regions of Colorado, Minnesota and New Mexico.
“Colorado has had the most far reaching campaign as far as numbers and it’s been exciting how the teachers have incorporated the kits into the science curriculum,” he said. “Xcel enjoys doing this outreach to the students. It gives them much better results than TV spots. It allows students to be empowered and be the “teachers” with their families.”
Also included in the kid is a postage-paid postcard for feedback and Patterson says the response has been very positive.
By Pat O’Connor