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A bright idea offered to NMS students

Posted: Thursday, Nov 7th, 2013

NMS Seventh grader, Payton Barkman, generates energy using the Lights for Learning Energy Bike, Oct. 30. The bike shows students first-hand how much more energy it takes to light up an incandescent light bulb than an energy-saving CFL (compact florescent light). Students will be selling light bulbs as a fundraiser through Nov. 12. (Reporter photo by Jennifer Sommer)

MENDOTA – For the second year, Northbrook Middle School seventh graders learned first-hand what they can do to reduce energy usage at an energy-saving assembly presented by Lights for Learning.

“Lights for Learning teaches students not just about energy, but the form we use the most–electricity. I want students to know more about saving electricity than I did at their age,” stated Lights for Learning presenter, John Koslowski.

Amy Brewer, 7th grade language teacher at NMS, has been preparing for the assembly by incorporating the topic into her curriculum. “We researched global warming and CFL bulbs and then used it in our writing. After two weeks of classwork, the students were ready to hear the presentation. This gave them real things they could do,” she said.

Brewer was instrumental in bringing the Lights for Learning to NMS last year after seeing a booth the organization had set up at a festival in Rockford.

The Lights for Learning program gets students excited for energy-efficient actions, stimulates awareness of energy conservation methods, and educates students to become the next generation of environmentally aware citizens.

This free program, funded by the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity is offered to any Illinois school that wants to raise awareness to students. It provides a valuable platform for educating students, educators, and families on energy efficiency. Presenters will visit around 160 schools and 25,000 students this year.

During the presentation at Northbrook, selected students had an opportunity to generate electricity by pedaling a bicycle. They saw first-hand how much energy it took to light an incandescent light bulb verses a CFL bulb. “The energy bike is always a big hit,” stated Koslowski after the show.

Kowslowski noted that the purpose of Lights for Learning is to get the information out to the public and get people to try energy-efficient products. The organization hopes to interest students enough to get them talking to their parents about making energy-conscious and environmentally aware choices in their daily lives. “We’re trying to educate the next generation to be more responsible,” he said.

Students can also raise money for their school through an optional fundraiser that sells Energy Star qualified CFLs, LEDs, and other energy efficient products, too. Northbrook chose to participate in the fundraiser. Brewer said that money earned will be used to buy new books for this year’s 7th graders to use during their reading workshop.

Blackstone School also held an assembly last week as Eugene Clark of Oxford, Mich. presented “Think Green – A Healthy Planet Show” to the kindergarten and 1st graders.

Clark and his wife started Amazing Clark with a variety of educational programs about 10 years ago. “It was just something we thought we needed to do,” said Clark.

In his “Think Green” program, Clark taught students ways to recycle, reduce, reuse, and restore our resources. Clark presents around the country to students from elementary to high school age. “I don’t think this topic is age related. Every grade level can help make the world a better place in some way, shape, or form,” he said.

Clark, too, discussed the importance of conserving energy by switching to a CFL bulb with the Blackstone students.

Both Koslowski and Clark are passionate about saving the resources of our planet. Koslowski pondered, “If each student takes home a couple of energy-saving tips to share with their parents and then makes a few changes in their home, just think how much energy would be saved!”

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