MARIETTA - As CFL light bulbs go in at the homes of Washington Elementary fifth-graders, light bulbs are going off in their young minds, as they have their first lessons on energy efficiency and nonrenewable resources.
"It's amazing how little they know at that age," said fifth-grade teacher Tasha Werry. "I asked them one day what a water heater was, and they were saying 'I think it's that big, tall cylinder thing in the basement.' This is eye-opening for them."
As part of a E3 Smart outreach program sponsored by AEP Ohio, students are now bringing home and installing outlet and switch gaskets, weather stripping, door sweeps, low-flow showerheads and CFL light bulbs. They'll then complete an energy audit and find out the savings, both in terms of energy and money.
Photo by Kate York
Fifth-graders at Washington Elementary take part in an experiment Friday measuring water flow, as part of a lesson on energy efficiency.
It's not a typical service project, but it actually serves the entire planet.
"You can start to save the whole world by one person using one light bulb," said fifth-grader Samantha Clinger, 10. "And if one person does it, maybe we can get the whole world to switch."
Classmate Max Garrison, 11, said he can think of countless reasons to try making the changes, even though he isn't so sure he'll like the new showerhead.
"I do want to help the environment and make a green planet," he said. "I don't want penguins to go extinct."
In-school experiments on electricity, efficiency, heat and energy precede the installation of each device going home with students.
"What I find is that this connects their learning to real-world situations, which is something we always try to do," said Werry. "They literally get to take it home."
Fifth-grader Caleb Young, 10, said he's already changed his habits, including turning lights off when he leaves a room.
"I never realized before how much energy we waste," he said. "I'm also taking shorter showers."
Tess Poulson, 11, and several other classmates, said that before these lessons began, their only real knowledge about energy sources and efficiency came from television commercials.
"I would see things on TV about how to help the planet," said Poulson. "Learning about it at school makes a bigger impact."