The U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) today announced the national champions of the America’s Home Energy Education Challenge (AHEEC), a student competition created to help families save money by saving energy. The sixth grade class from South Ripley Elementary School in Versailles, Ind. and sixth and seventh grade students from Villa Maria School in Stamford, Conn. were together declared the national champions for their efforts, which reduced household energy usage, encouraged school-wide involvement and collaboration to save energy and engaged their local community.
“This competition engages our future scientists, researchers and engineers in the effort to save money by saving energy, while also protecting the environment and contributing to our clean energy economy,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “By applying the math and science skills they are learning at school, these students are making a difference, inspiring their families and communities to make choices to save energy and reduce emissions, moving the U.S. closer to its low carbon future.”
The competition, which is administered by NSTA, challenged teams of third through eighth grade students to work with their science teachers and local utility companies to develop energy savings plans that would reduce the amount of energy used to power their homes and schools. Each student team monitored and measured their energy consumption over a three-month period between September 2013 and February 2014 and compared it to data from the same period the year before.
The winners were chosen from a select group of finalists and were judged on several criteria, including energy and cost savings, overall quality and presentation of the team narrative, focus on behavioral changes, and creativity of local school involvement. As national champions, each school will receive $10,000.
The winning Indiana team researched energy efficiency and renewable energy and the team also engaged a representative from SolarZentrum North America, a local manufacturer of solar energy products that presented information to the team about solar panels. The students presented their research findings and recommendations to school staff and community members and implemented their ideas for saving energy at school and at home, turning off the lights in rooms when gone for more than 15 minutes and wearing appropriate clothing for the season to reduce heating and cooling costs. As a result of their efforts, the students helped the school save more than $1,600 and raised money to purchase a solar panel for the school.
The sixth and seventh grade student winners from Connecticut focused on reducing their consumption of electricity at home, while learning about the importance of conserving resources and how electricity is produced. Throughout the project, teachers at Villa Maria School used examples from their own homes in stories, photos and videos, which helped the students develop a more robust energy savings plan. Students also took a field trip to the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford, where they explored the “Energy City” exhibit and learned more about energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.
“We are incredibly proud of all the projects that came through this year. It was such a tough decision for our panel of judges to make,” said NSTA President Bill Badders. “The national winning teams went above and beyond in demonstrating a dedication to understanding the environmental impacts of energy choices and initiating real-life change that they can be proud of.”
In addition to the national winning teams, five teams received an honorable mention, also receiving $1,000: Academy for Science and Design, Nashua, N.H.; Al-Falah Academy, Lilburn, Ga.; Cold Spring Elementary School, Potomac, Md.; Ekalaka Elementary School, Ekalaka, Mont.; and Morningside Elementary School, Port St. Lucie, Fla. A full list of the Challenge winners can be viewed here.
The Challenge also included a poster competition to encourage students to find artistic ways to continue to encourage their families and communities to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and buildings. Volusia Pines Elementary School in Lake Helen, Fla. received $1,000 as the national poster champion for visually demonstrating simple, inexpensive ways to reduce energy usage to save money, while the Academy for Science and Design in Nashua, N.H. and Al-Falah Academy in Lilburn, Ga. received an honorable mention and $500 each for their efforts.