America’s Home Energy Education Challenge

Ed. note: Earlier today Secretary Duncan joined Energy Secretary Steven Chu in announcing a new energy education initiative to promote energy awareness and efficiency. In a statement, Arne said that “we all need to pitch in to make our homes and schools more energy efficient. America’s Home Energy Education Challenge will teach students how science and common sense efforts can help all of us to do our part to save energy and save money as well as protect the environment.”

Let’s be honest. Many of us probably had trouble paying attention one or two times in middle school science class. While the occasional frog dissection and “potato-volt” experiments were cool, not all of us got up in the morning, scarfed down Cocoa Puffs and got geeked about test tubes and chlorophyll. And that’s not to discredit the great teachers out there, but as they all know (and as Ms. Ives, my 7th grade teacher knew quite well), sometimes the 12-year-old mind just has WAY more important things to think about.

It can be quite a feat coming up with new and exciting ways to engage our young folk when it comes to energy and science, but the Department of Energy and the National Science Teachers Association have put together a new challenge to ignite that spark.

America’s Home Energy Education Challenge is designed to harness the imagination and enthusiasm of America’s students to encourage home energy efficiency.

“Energy efficiency is all about helping families save money by saving energy,” said Secretary Chu. “America’s Home Energy Education Challenge leverages the passion and curiosity of students to encourage families across the country to reduce energy waste in their homes while inspiring the next generation of American’s energy leaders.”

Geared specifically towards students in grades 3-8, teams of participating teachers and students will compete this fall to reduce energy waste in their homes by recording their energy consumption data for three months. Then, that data will be compared to energy usage data from the same time period a year ago. These teams will collectively challenge other teams in their community, and then compete regionally and even nationally to see who are the best energy savings champions.

Another cool part of the challenge is the new Energy Fitness Award. Modeled after the famous President’s Physical Fitness award, the Energy Fitness Award challenges students to improve their knowledge of energy use in buildings, to learn more about the energy they use, and to design and develop energy plans.

Registration is open now for school principals and teachers until September 30, 2011. From September through December, energy data will be measured, and the awards will be announced in January 2012.

So Moms and Dads out there – get ready for a new kind of school science project, one that will get the kids psyched about science and save you money by saving energy at home.

You can get info on prizes, regional breakdowns, grading criteria, and learn much more American’s Home Energy Education Challenge at HomeEnergyChallenge.org.

Andy Oare is a New Media Strategist with the Office of Public Affairs at the Department of Energy.

Cross-posted from the EnergyBlog.