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Surprises while learning how to measure energy!

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Today was a great day. I had a great meeting with Grade 6 students at East Pictou Middle School, and Colleen Freake, the Green Schools Nova Scotia Program Coordinator, came to work with me!

According to the New Glasgow News, East Pictou Middle School opened in 1952 and was originally intended to accommodate around 1,000 students. In recent years, those enrollment numbers have dropped to less than 100 students. With the lower enrollment rates and other factors, it has been decided that within the next few years the school will be closed and Frank H. MacDonald Elementary School next door will be upgraded to a P-8 school.  Before that happens there is still lots of time to work together to save energy at East Pictou Middle School!

We started the day’s activities by discussing ideas around energy: what it is, where it comes from, how to save energy, and energy efficiency. Once the group better understood these concepts, four volunteer students came with me to… dun – dun – dunnnn….the STAFF ROOM! While the volunteers and I were out of the classroom, Colleen was hosting a game with the students about which everyday choices use More or Less Energy.

In the Staff Room, with the assistance of Mr. Brian Snyder, we tested out the different devices in the staff room. We tested the refrigerator, the microwave (while running), the toaster oven (while “toasting”), and the radio (while playing). The results were pretty shocking!

Refrigerator: 1,047 Watts or 1.047kW
Microwave: 1,204 Watts or 1.204kW
Toaster Oven: 346 Watts
Radio: <1 Watt

We went back to class to share the results and it was clear that the toaster oven uses less energy than the microwave, which could be an alternative for heating up snacks and lunches. The radio used very little energy and students all agreed that it was still a good idea to turn it off and unplug it when not listening to it to stop phantom power.

The energy consumption of the fridge was really shocking because while the fridge looked new, it was clearly an Energy Monster that consumes copious amounts of energy. With the school being closed in the next few years, it was evident that when that happens, this fridge should be retired and recycled. The school could even call Efficiency Nova Scotia, have the fridge picked up, and receive $30 from the Appliance Retirement Program

At the end of the session, all students received 100% off coupons to share the word that their families can receive Efficiency Nova Scotia’s Efficient Product Installation Service to receive FREE energy saving products such as LED light bulbs, hot water-saving showerheads, and more! 

As we were packing up, two individual students came to me and said: “Thank you and Green Schools for coming to our school to help us all save energy and take care of the Earth. It’s really important.” Not a minute later, another student followed and said, “Thank you for the work that you are doing visiting and helping schools take better care of Earth. I think it’s important and wanted to say thank you for showing me what I can do!” When students share these thoughts with us it encourages us to do even better, and to help as many Nova Scotians and schools to save energy and waste less every day!

-Pam Chandler
Engagement Officer, Northern Nova Scotia

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