Empowering Energy Conservation: Mentorship Success at Hillcrest Elementary
Electricity Cardinals

Renew Our School Energy Challenge

In the spring of 2024, the "Electricity Cardinals,” 67 second graders from three classrooms at Hillcrest Elementary School in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, participated in the Renew Our Schools energy challenge. This initiative was championed by ten Chippewa Falls High School Green Team students, who volunteered as mentors to guide the second graders through a transformative five-week journey.

Renew Our Schools presents a unique opportunity for schools to immerse students and staff in a conservation challenge centered on responsible energy usage. Participating schools gain insights into their electricity consumption patterns by utilizing an e-Gauge energy monitoring device. Students are empowered to explore the impact of simple, no-cost actions that conserve energy.

Hillcrest Renew 2
Mentorship Approach
Crafting Lessons
Two students showing an e-gauge and picture.

Each week, the high school mentors crafted lesson plans tailored to actively engage the second graders in age-appropriate activities centered on energy conservation. From deciphering graphs showcasing energy usage to hands-on demonstrations with specialized tools like infrared heat guns and light meters, the mentors taught the students how to make behavioral changes to save energy and be able to measure the results.

Classroom filled with students doing energy related activities.

The second-grade students embraced their roles as energy conservation advocates. They shared valuable energy-saving tips to classmates at various grade levels through posters on display throughout their school and in morning announcements. A highlight throughout the competition was a classroom video shared among the teaching staff. Students asked them to join their quest for a 10% energy reduction over a single weekend.

Partnering Proves Powerful

Evelyn, a second grader at Hillcrest Elementary School, expressed the importance of their hard work, stating, "By saving energy, you are also saving money." Her classroom used watt meters to gauge the energy consumption of their electric pencil sharpener and other pieces of classroom technology.

The partnership between Hillcrest Elementary and the Chippewa Falls High School Green Team was encouraged by the Elementary Principal and the High School Green Team’s Advisor. The two buildings’ proximity made for easy coordination of weekly meetings and check-ins.

"The Green Team Approach"

Second-grade teacher Colleen Kunsman praised the Green Team's approach. “The Green Team students transformed abstract concepts into tangible learning experiences for the students. Watching them ignite a newfound passion for science among my students was inspiring.”

Two students with an e-gauge

The mentorship extended beyond the classroom setting, offering students immersive experiences like touring Hillcrest Elementary’s boiler room. They also embarked on a virtual field trip led by Cory Neeley from Solar Share, providing a glimpse into a future solar energy farm coming to their community.

Green Team Commitment
Community Involvement

The Chippewa Falls High School Green Team's commitment to community involvement is evident by their successful efforts in securing solar grants for their school building and other local organizations. Their collaboration with Hillcrest Elementary underscores the impact of intergenerational mentorship in fostering environmental stewardship and empowering young minds to enact positive change.

The mentorship program proved incredibly effective, propelling Hillcrest Elementary School to claim the top spot in the Novice category with an impressive score of 590 points. Securing victory in this challenge means the school will be awarded $2,000 to support upcoming energy efficiency projects.

Future Competition Dates

Are you looking for an opportunity to grow teamwork within your school? Consider joining the Fall 2024 Renew Our Schools Competition, sponsored by FOCUS ON ENERGY® and the Wisconsin K-12 Energy Education Program (KEEP).

Participating schools are invited to enroll and contribute $250 towards their registration, which is later reimbursed by Focus on Energy upon successful completion of the challenge. As an added benefit, Focus on Energy covers the installation costs of the e-Gauge monitor used in the competition, amounting to savings of up to $1,200 for participating schools.

How It Works

Throughout the competition, Focus on Energy and KEEP provide valuable support, including:

  • On-site guidance to assist students in conducting energy audits.
  • Access to a comprehensive toolkit comprising hands-on devices, meticulously crafted lesson plans, and actionable school energy initiatives.
  • Ongoing provision of resources and recommendations to aid schools throughout the competition journey.

Learn more about the process. Applications are open for the Fall Competition scheduled for October 7 to November 15, 2024. Join in embracing sustainability and making a meaningful impact within your school community.

Renew Our Schools Fall Competition

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