By Julie Blum, ACE Field Correspondent and Student at Westbrook High School
It has been almost three months since my last blog entry about our conservation awareness project, and I am excited to share the story of the Conservation Song, our awesome new music video (watch it below!) and the accomplishments of the Energy Patrol students at Westbrook's elementary school!
Who's in this video, you ask? Great question! Let’s take a look at where I’ve been – and who’s behind this Energy Patrol and project.
ENERGY PATROL: The elementary school Energy Patrol audit team has been monitoring classrooms’ energy use for several months, and the results are in. First, here’s how they do it: they keep track of each classroom’s energy-related activities - like lights off, printers off, etc – and we have continued to send home information for a home conservation activity each month as well. Classrooms get points for things turned off and for each home activity sheet returned. The scores are tallied each month and the class with the high score wins a prize: the world’s cutest stuffed polar bear!
In March, we began filming the music video and soliciting the participation of the high school and middle school drama clubs. Everyone carried out a short scene, in character, while demonstrating the conservation concept of recycling. I really wanted the message to be loud AND clear!
Also in March, the home conservation activity in the elementary school was to turn down the heat. At the end of the month, some other high school students and I made a trip to the school to deliver the prizes to students who participated. The March prize was a “carbon” footprint made of recycled rubber from tires. It has the energy patrol logo, which was designed by some high school students, and a written statement, “Westbrook is making a smaller carbon footprint.” The elementary school kids really love getting these prizes for their participation in the home activity.
We also delivered the polar bear to the winning class, which was in the second grade.
PROJECT RESULTS: During this time we began to hear comments from teachers saying that they have noticed a definite heightened awareness in many of the students, which meant that our project was showing signs of success! A CD of the conservation song was also given to all the classrooms this month with hopes that they would play it some time to keep the message going.
In April, the video project was evolving beautifully; many more groups started to get involved, including a group of fourth grade Energy Patrol students, members of the town’s Conservation Commission, all of Westbrook’s town selectmen along with some of the new Energy Committee members, and the members of Land Conservation Trust.
MAKING OF THE VIDEO: I invented hand motions to go along with the lyrics of the Conservation Song’s chorus, and I directed each of these groups to carry out these motions. For the most part, we did not tell these groups beforehand what they would be doing for the video, so it was rather hilarious watching the surprised and reluctant looks on the faces of the adults as I filled them in on what I was going to have them do. Everyone was a good sport in the end, though, and they all managed to convince themselves to follow my direction.
April’s home conservation activity was to turn off the water while brushing your teeth. One of the mothers wrote to me that her daughter had convinced her entire household to turn off the water rather than let it run. There was also a father who described a story about his son insisting on turning off the water even though the father was against the idea.
It made me very happy to see that these children were committed to the cause and were making a difference in their families as well! The prizes we presented at the end of the April were little polar bears made of recycled paper and infused with wildflower seeds, and these were a big hit among the kids. The winning class was a first grade class this time, and the polar bear was relocated to their classroom for the upcoming month.
The month of May brought more hard work on the video, and after including more groups such as the boy scouts, and a few young Westbrook dancers, at last the video was complete! In all, the video included ten different groups, with about fifty kids and twenty adults.
The final class to win the polar bear was a fourth grade class, and they accepted the stuffed creature with open arms. So that the fourth grade students who did not get a chance to be part of the Energy Patrol did not feel left out, I organized a separate activity for them which involved decorating individual posters that said “Thank you for turning off the lights when not in use.” These will be given to teachers to hang in their classrooms.
MUSIC VIDEO DEBUT: Today, this completed music video will be officially released at a Board of Education meeting in my town where we will have the first “screening.” There will also be a presentation of some letters that the Energy Patrol wrote with recommendations about turning off lights, and also the posters created by the fourth graders will be given to the principal. Be the first to see it:
This whole experience has proven that a difference really can be made; just by looking at the newly developed enthusiasm of the students for conservation, one can hope that they will maintain their good habits for years to come!