Green Schools energy resources for teachers

Use National Energy Education Development (NEED) materials to earn Green Schools points.

The Michigan State Legislature passed the MI Green Schools law in 2006 to provide structure and incentives to school administrators, teachers, parents and students to improve their environmental practices. Yearly statewide competition results in Green Schools designations for schools that earn enough points by using fewer natural resources, conducting educational outreach and presentations and saving scarce school operating funds through efficiency and conservation measures.

Eligible activities change each year. Energy education activities for the 2012-13 school year are to:

  • Teach at least one unit on alternative energy
  • Sponsor an alternative energy presentation, project or event
  • Promote improved fuel efficiency in vehicles through a project or event
  • Educate families and communities through student-led home energy audits
  • Use alternative energy, renewable fuels or specialized energy-efficient technology in school operations
  • Implement a school energy-saving program

The cadillac or volt of teacher resources is the National Energy Education Development Project (NEED) which began under President Jimmy Carter in 1980. A network of teachers has created objective K-12 energy education programs with curriculum that conforms to the National Science Education Standards. Teaching modules are inquiry-based or highly interactive, energy data is updated online each year and materials can be used freely for non-commercial purposes.

Using the “Blueprint for Success” guide, teachers can develop an age-appropriate, hands-on energy unit with content, lesson plans, games, ice breakers, activities and pre and post evaluations. Recognition for students includes a trip to Washington, D.C.

To earn Green Schools points, teachers can use NEED infobooks to create alternative energy units on hydropower, natural gas, marine, nuclear, ocean, solar and wind energy.

Presentations, projects or events can include an alternative energy expo and debates that explore the advantages and disadvantages of energy sources. To promote improved fuel efficiency through a project or event, teachers can organize a transportation fuels debate for students or host a renewable fuels energy expo.

Students can learn about energy efficiency and conservation by writing news briefs and creating television programs, organizing an energy conservation expo and insulating an energy house with caulk, weather-stripping and insulation. The “Energy Conservation Contract” allows students to ask their families to save energy by making measurable changes.

District and school leaders can use the “Blueprint for School Energy Teams” guide and the “Energy Management Guide for Schools” to develop and implement on-going school energy plans to reduce the use of energy by conservation as well as by using alternative energy, renewable fuels or energy efficient technology.

The Green Schools program challenges administrators, teachers, students and parents to make deliberate choices to save energy and to do so in such a way that combines learning and doing. The National Energy Education Demonstration project has high-quality educational materials ready to be used. Coupling Green Schools with NEED is a natural!

Related Articles