Clean Memphis is a small organization with big dreams for Memphis. They are located in a tiny office with walls covered in maps of Memphis to try to keep up with ever changing schools and neighborhoods. Their mission includes providing environmental education for all children and cleaning up the city of Memphis. This past year, they started a new program called the Sustainable School Challenge, which aims to improve energy efficiency in schools (which will save money on the energy bill!) and promote good energy practices in everyday life. The hope is that students will take home these energy saving habits that they learned in school and in doing so, teach their family and friends about energy conservation.
During my time with Clean Memphis, I had the pleasure of tagging along with Andrew Murphy, the Education Coordinator, to Grad Academy where he has started teaching 9th and 10th graders about energy usage. On his first day with the classes, he taught the students about electricity and the major consumers of electricity at their school: heating/cooling systems and lights. Today, we took the students around to the different classrooms to begin to assess the actual energy usage at their school by measuring temperature, the amount of light output, and counting the number lights. With this data, the students will be able to determine the total amount of energy used and the amount that is essentially being wasted. The goal is for the students to come up with no cost or low cost solutions to improve energy efficiency. These could be as simple as turning lights off when leaving rooms, changing the types of light bulbs and turning down the thermostat. The students are encouraged to come up with to be creative with these solutions and take ownership of the project.
Measuring temperature and humidity. Measuring heat loss.
Since we broke up into groups for each class, I had the opportunity to work closely with a few students. I enjoyed spending time with such enthusiastic students who were invested in their task and clearly having fun. They were excited to be out of the classroom and doing something tangible. One student eagerly explained to one of her teachers what we were doing and why we were doing it.
As I have seen so many times in the past, students truly love to learn about conservation and they want to know how they can be involved. Clean Memphis is trying to use this interest and passion to teach energy efficient practices that will permeate throughout the community. In addition, they want to empower these students to be responsible for their schools by helping out in a tangible way. Based on the reactions of the students I worked with, I think Clean Memphis is at the beginning of a successful and long-lived program that will affect many students, schools and the community at large!
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