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Students Learn More About Where Energy Comes From

Students Learn More About Where Energy Comes From

In her third year of participating in the EmPowered Schools program, science teacher Emily Coulter’s goal has never changed: to enable students to learn more about where energy comes from and the cost of energy.  

“Typically, my students have never seen an electric or gas bill,” said Ms. Coulter. “I want them to learn that we pay for these resources, and how we get our energy has a huge impact on the environment around us. I also want our students to learn new ways to conserve energy, after seeing how energy is used with our school.” 

That school is Arthur P. Schalick High School in Pittsgrove (Salem County), NJ. This year, Ms. Coulter has engaged 25 enthusiastic 11th and 12th graders in EmPowered Schools. Developed by the Alliance to Save Energy, EmPowered Schools uses a STEM curriculum and activities to teach students about the importance of energy efficiency and gives them tools to save energy and money, at home and in school.  

The program is delivered through an online platform with video lessons, quizzes, and different activities. Each EmPowered Schools team is given a toolkit with energy diagnostic instruments, so students can analyze energy use of HVAC systems, lighting, and appliances, and then make recommendations for improving energy efficiency. 

“My students have conducted the energy audit, in which they measured the temperature, lighting, and energy usage in our classroom, said Ms. Coulter. “My students also created posters with reminders to turn the lights out or unplug appliances when not in use.” The posters were so well received that they’re now hanging in other teachers’ classrooms.  

With curiosity and teamwork, the students completed learning assignments and also engaged in a bit of competition. “My students tracked their daily activities and calculated their carbon footprint for seven days straight. We ranked everyday activities to assess carbon output and had a contest to see which activities produced the most carbon dioxide.” Ms. Coulter and her students also talked about ways to reduce their overall carbon footprint. 

While the program continues until the end of the school year, Ms. Coulter’s students have already learned a lot about energy efficiency. “These students have learned so much about climate change, energy usage and solutions to reduce our energy usage, said Ms. Coulter. She also has observed the students have picked up other meaningful skills that will help them throughout their lives.  

“The students are expected to do a staff presentation as part of this program,” said Ms. Coulter. “They have to talk in front of all of the high school faculty, and this has enabled them to learn valuable public speaking skills.” 

The positive impact of the EmPowered Schools program reaches beyond just the students who are participating – the students’ hard work has changed the behavior of fellow students and faculty members. One teacher was cited twice by students in the EmPowered Schools program for neglecting to turn off a classroom’s lights and teaching equipment. Their influence was swift: it took just a few days for the teacher to implement the energy-saving protocol.  

“My students were excited to see that they did help to save energy and make a difference, even if it was just one classroom,” said Ms. Coulter. “My colleagues all know about the program, and they appreciate seeing the students talk about energy efficiency.” 

Overall, Ms. Coulter’s students really enjoy the program. “They like the competition and the hands-on activities with the equipment that was supplied to us,” she said. “After they leave my class, I see them still wearing their EmPowered Schools shirts in the hallways, and they always talk about the program.”  

South Jersey Gas is pleased to support this hands-on learning program for the fourth consecutive year. EmPowered Schools hosts PK-12th grade schools from across the state. Learn more about the EmPowered Schools program from the Alliance to Save Energy. 

Save energy and money -- check out SJG Energy Efficiency programs available exclusively for SJG customers.

 

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