BE3 Education

Energy Efficiency Education

        That is what the 3 E’s stand for in Ohio Energy Project’s (OEP) experiential curriculum called Be E3 Smart. Keep Akron Beautiful (KAB) and OEP hosted the 17 sixth grade Akron Public School (APS) teachers and their Intervention Specialists to a full day of Energy 101, reviewing the seven curriculum lessons they are being asked to implement in their classrooms during the spring 2010 semester. Becky Grimm, Education Coordinator and the author of the curriculum, came up from Columbus to lead the workshop that gave the teachers every piece of equipment they would need to teach the students energy consumption, efficiency, sources, transformations, and where we get our energy. They left the workshop with radiometers, circuit balls, Kill-A-Watt meters, and dynamo flashlights to make the 7 lessons come alive. After Becky reviewed an introduction to energy, she had the local teachers who had used the curriculum last spring-thanks to a grant from the EPA’s OEEF (Ohio Environmental Education Program) - role play how they demonstrated insulation & leaks, or heating and cooling concepts. Saving water and energy is an important component of the series as well as a lesson using light bulbs. EnergyStar appliances are showcased in the science unit, which is a timely discussion due to the new rebate program to replace old and inefficient white goods.

        The whole lesson takes the learning out of the classroom and into the student’s homes. The sixth grader’s family is asked to begin the energy unit by completing a Home Energy Audit, which is done again after the family receives a Niagara Conservation Household Energy Efficient Kit, courtesy of funding from the President’s ARRA, EECBG grant awarded to the City of Akron in 2010, with the activity administered by KAB. The kit includes items meant to reduce the family’s greenhouse gas emissions while lowering their utility bills:

20 watt CFL light bulb, a limelight night light, switch and outlet gaskets, low-flow shower head and faucet aerators, and thermometers and gauges to measure the heat in a room, and the temperature of the hot water or the refrigerator setting.

        What is great about this energy unit which satisfies the State of Ohio’s STEP science benchmarks, is kids like to do the labs and then be the family expert at home, teaching them why they should install the kit contents. .

        Hopefully, Keep Akron Beautiful, and the Ohio Energy Project can continue to secure funding to purchase the take-home kits of energy-saving household items in the future school year. KAB would like to offer a similar workshop and distribution to the sixth grade students attending Akron parochial and charter schools. It would be great to find a utility that would see the value in educating Akron families and giving them a head start through energy efficiency education!