By Carolyn Silva Sanchez, Teacher
Contributed by Carolyn Silva Sanchez, Teacher
On October 7, 2015, my kindergarten class was fortunate to have participated in an energy efficiency project thanks to the generous mini-grant from Eversource that we received through the Massachusetts Chapter’s Green Apple Day of Service. My project focused on teaching students what electricity was, why we need to strive each day to use less, and what we could do to help in the classroom. Being new to school, many of my students did not have an understanding of what electricity was and how much we use it each day. When I helped them to make connections that things like lights, computers, and televisions all use electricity they realized how much they use electricity at school and at home. One student even said, “wow, it is in everything.
My lesson contained three parts. Pulling from the Magic School Bus Jumping into Electricity Curriculum, I read them a book that talked about what electricity was and then we put together our very own mini circuit board where students could watch a small light bulb light up. Reading the story allowed children to understand the concept of electricity as simply as possible. They took away understandings of what types of things use electricity, and also why it is not safe to touch things that have an electrical current. They also started to understand that electricity is generated in one central location and then runs out to different places like our school.
After reading, I wanted to make this concept come alive. My students all benefit from content that is hands-on, so we used the materials in the kit to make a small circuit board. Students had the chance to connect wires to a battery and to a very small light bulb. They saw what happened when the activated wires touched the light bulb. They were amazed! We were in a circle, taking turns connecting the wires and students had trouble staying seated because of their pure excitement. When we finished the project I told them to look at all the wires we needed just to turn on one little light bulb. Then I asked them to imagine how many wires are needed to turn on the light bulbs in our classroom. Students began to look up at the ceiling and say, “oh there must be a lot of wires to get electricity to the lights.” I told them that the plants we read about in the book, where the electricity is made, isn’t so good for the environment – they don’t help our trees grow big and strong. I said that it was our job to help the environment by using less electricity.
Over the next few days we generated a list of things we could do at school and at home to save electricity. Even today we continue to talk about saving electricity. When we leave the classroom one student is in charge of turning the lights off. Students take pride in their ability to “help the trees grown big and strong.”