Transition Bath and Bath: Hacked‘s innovative web based Schools Energy Education Programme Energy Sparks has been launched with a number of local schools taking part. The programme based around an innovative web platform we have developed not only displays 1/2 hourly electricity and gas meter data which allows pupils to monitor their progress in reducing energy consumption at their schools, but also provides 55 suggested activities in 5 categories:
- Investigating energy usage
- Spreading the message
- Taking action around school
- Whole school activities
Schools can gain points and awards for completing these activities which contribute to a school’s position on the Energy Sparks scoreboard; whose element of competition we hope will increase pupils’ enthusiasm for making their school more eco-friendly. The Energy Sparks site also provides a good way for schools to share inspiring energy saving best practice as they record descriptions of the activities carried out.
So far we have 10 schools signed up to display their energy use data on the system, 4 of which have already started entering their activity data, and are currently top of our scoreboard. The remaining 6 schools are about to start taking part in the competition over the next few weeks. We are looking for further schools to take part in the programme, if you know of a school which might be interested please let us know firstname.lastname@example.org .
Participating schools are receiving visits from the Energy Sparks team to introduce the programme to their pupils, and to identify any easy ways individual schools can save energy. The Energy Sparks team are working with Eco-teams who are leading on the project at their schools. At most participating schools, these have been newly established or rejuvenated for the Energy Sparks project. Discussions with pupils include exploring their school’s data for electricity and gas consumption, brainstorming key times over the school day when energy use changes, looking for any signs of energy waste such as heating running on full during the school holidays and at weekends, marking up light switches and power sockets to identify which can be turned off by pupils when not in use, distributing thermometers around the school to monitor classroom temperatures and discussing how to adjust heating controls to optimise classroom temperatures at 18C. The Energy Sparks team also discuss how pupils can share the energy saving message with other pupils and staff at the school through assemblies, signage, posters and rewards.
The photo at the top of this article is of Chloe and Millie from Pensford Primary School’s Eco-Team who have been printing off the school’s weekly energy usage to display in each classroom, which has contributed to them gaining 20 points in the ‘Electricity usage signs for every class’ activity under the ‘Spreading the message’ category.
The aim of the project is to equip children with life skills in understanding energy, where energy is used and how to become more energy efficient; skills and knowledge often lacking in adults. At the same time the programme should help reduce schools’ energy costs and reduce carbon emissions.
Despite only recently launching the website and starting the programme we have been approached by other local authorities interested in reusing the technology.
We would like to thank our sponsors, the Open Data Institute who funded the development of the website, BWCE Community Energy Fund, NatureSave Trust and the Ovo Foundation who are providing funding for us to run the programme, paying for professional project management and teaching support for the schools taking part in the programme. We are also grateful for the support of B&NES Council for providing us with the schools’ smart meter data.