Kids don’t pay the hydro bill, but they do know how essential those wall sockets in their homes are—not just for powering up their gadgets, but for the refrigerator, television, lamps and much more to function. When they’re younger they’re told about the dangers of playing with electricity, while the older ones hear about conserving electricity to help save the environment.
Whether they understand the science of electricity or not, kids can learn important lessons about electricity safety and conservation. Hydro Ottawa was here to help with Bright Ideas, a contest for Ottawa-area schools that was held during the 2014-15 school year. By participating, kids brought important lessons home, had a chance to win great prizes—and may have taught their parents some ways to better manage their hydro bill!
We wanted students of all ages to think about how they stay safe and save electricity in their own homes. We wanted them to open a dialogue with their parents, using clear examples we provided, about the things they do in their homes for safety and conservation, and how they could do even better.
The contest was divided into two age-appropriate parts: one aimed at students in JK to Grade 4, and the other for students in Grades 5 to 8. Teachers were provided with a simple set of resources needed to run the contest in their classrooms. The winners were announced on Earth Day (April 22, 2015).
Junior students (JK to Grade 4) learned about safety and conservation through a fun, creative activity that involved the whole family. Teachers provided them with an illustrated work sheet to bring home to their parents. The sheet provided examples of basic home safety and conservation tips, in a way that young children could grasp, and even do themselves (with help from parents).
Teachers prompted kids to talk about their home electricity practices with simple questions: “Do we do this [meaning the examples shown on the worksheets]? What other ways do we stay safe and save electricity at home? Could we start doing [one of the examples]?”
Students then got to use their writing, drawing and colouring skills to show how their family was staying safe and saving. The work sheet provided a space for them to draw and write, as well as images to colour if they preferred to do that. They submitted their work to their teachers for a participation mark. Teachers had the opportunity to post the worksheets in their school, and Hydro Ottawa has showcased a sampling of their work right here on our Bright Ideas website.
Senior students (Grades 5 to 8) investigated electricity conservation in their homes by completing an ‘energy audit’ of the lighting or electronic devices in their home. Teachers provided them with easy-to-use audit forms. The audit forms were also available as a digital checklist here on the Bright Ideas website; students were able to complete the audit via tablet as they toured their homes, and submit their work online.
As part of the audit, students were asked to talk to their parents about steps they take to save energy and stay safe, and whether the family can make improvements. The Hydro Ottawa website provided a tip sheet full of ideas and techniques for saving electricity and staying safe. The audit form provided a space for students to share positive changes they planned to make in their homes.
Students submitted their completed audit form to their teachers for a participation mark.