I have been visiting Whycocomagh Education Centre (WEC) for the last three years to deliver the Green Schools Nova Scotia program. It's a relatively small school community with 165 students from Pre-Primary to grade eight. After years of working with this school, I have talked to most students at least once during their time at WEC. As a result, many of the students recognize me and know me by name. They welcome me as soon as I enter the school. Visiting the same students several times throughout their education is one of the surprising experiences I've had from working with students of all levels: watching them grow up green.
The grade five/six classes at WEC received their first introduction to energy efficiency last Thursday. The students were introduced to the concept of watts as a unit for measuring the amount of energy a device or appliance uses. They did a great job of arranging the items I brought with me from lowest to highest energy consumption. They were surprised by the difference between the old incandescent holiday lights with large bulbs, and the new LED holiday lights with large bulbs: 175 watts per strand, compared to 2 watts per strand for the LED lights!
Next, I visited the grade seven class. These students learned about energy efficiency during a presentation last fall and then we met again through several Green Schools virtual visits over the course of that year. These students sure know their stuff! The class walked their new teacher through everything they had learned last year about sources of energy and ways we can waste less. As a group, these students went through the Let’s Compare Holiday Lights math activity. They figured out what information they needed to know, then a few students did the mental math and one double checked the answers on a calculator. Teachers and students alike were shocked to discover that 10 strands of incandescent lights left on for five hours each day for 31 days would cost $40.68 in electricity. LED lights with all the same parameters would only cost $0.47! The class also figured out that at $20, a strand of LED lights has a payback period of about five years.
WEC is a great example of how working with students from year to year on the topic of energy efficiency gives them the information they need to understand the value and importance of energy conservation. One of the best parts of my job is watching students go from learning about watts and circuits to being able to calculate for themselves which types of lights are more economical and better for the earth. Working with students as they progress through elementary to high school allows us to witness learning moments like these that happen each year.
~Engagement Officer, Cape Breton