Energize, investigate, and innovate through NPPD’s GreenSchools educator’s workshop at Chadron State

October 1, 2013

Columbus, Neb. – Energize. Investigate. Innovate.

Those are three key words that describe the GreenSchools program, an environmental-focused program for students from kindergarten through the twelfth grade. The program encourages students to take personal responsibility for improving the quality of their school, home and community environment.

Nebraska Public Power District, along with ESU 13, is sponsoring a free teacher’s workshop at Chadron State College October 18-19 to introduce GreenSchools to educators. Registration includes lodging (if needed), breakfast and lunch on Friday, breakfast on Saturday, as well as the workshop itself.  Deadline for registration is Friday, October 11 and should be done by contacting soar@esu13.org. Registrants must indicate if they will need lodging.

Friday’s day-long workshop begins at 8 and runs until 5 p.m., with the Saturday session running from 8 a.m. to noon. Attendees will be involved in activities that relate to the GreenSchools program. Guest speakers will be on hand for the Friday sessions, and Saturday will include field trips related to energy projects in the Chadron area.

The GreenSchools program consists of five, student-led investigations designed to be carried out in the school setting, but also include elements where students can apply what they are learning in their home. Students are trained to use diagnostic tools to assess energy usage in their school; thus, the school building becomes a learning lab for students. This program helps improve students’ academic performance in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), and it assists students in developing critical thinking skills and growing as leaders.

Investigations include:

  • Energy – how much energy a school uses and the main sources of that energy, and propose ways to implement energy-saving strategies;
  • Water – source, cost and quality of a school’s water supply and ways to enhance current water conservation practices;
  • School Site - natural habitats, wildlife, trees, grounds maintenance practices and ways to make improvements to a school site;
  • Environmental Quality - improvements to indoor air quality, transportation, and chemical use;
  • Waste and Recycling – how much waste a school generates and where it goes, as well as ways to recycle, and compost waste.

NPPD supports the program by providing educational resources, teacher professional development, and classroom activities. One of the key components of GreenSchools is an investigative tool kit, which NPPD loans out to schools, containing light and watt meters, an infrared temperature gauge, a CO2 meter, a conservation flow meter bag, and other associated equipment used to conduct the investigations.

School investigations may be done by one class or a team consisting of multiple classes and grade levels. Based upon results from the investigations, schools will develop action plans focused on reducing energy usage at the school, increasing the school’s energy efficiency and improving environmental quality.

To learn more about the GreenSchools program or the Chadron workshop, contact NPPD Energy Educator Jennifer Swerczek at 402-336-2701 or by e-mail at jlswerc@nppd.com.