“We got to make our school green and save our school some green,” said Reece, a third-grader at Hermosa Valley Elementary School.
Schools throughout the country are going green — but not by planting lush lawns. Pre-kindergarten through high school students are going green by helping conserve electricity and they are using free online ideas and activities from the nonprofit Grades of Green.
Reese and her classmates, SaraJane and Kiley, worked on the “Energy Zappers” project at Hermosa Valley Elementary. The team taught fellow classmates how to save energy at school and at home.
“Our first project was the Electricity Challenge,” said SaraJane, which involves “10 ways to save energy” and can result in measurable energy reduction and cost savings. In total, 350 students completed the challenge. The class with the highest savings was awarded a popsicle party and $100 for classroom items. “We gave all kindergarten through fifth-grade kids 10 steps to save energy at home.”
The girls also conducted an energy audit to show their teacher potential ways to reduce energy use in their classroom. They checked lights that were unnecessarily lit, reviewed plugged in but unused electronics, tallied light bulb kilowatt usage and checked the thermostat setting. If something didn’t meet the “grade,” it was fixed.
Grades of Green was founded in 2009 by four Grand View Elementary School moms who wanted to create a better world for their children and make environmental protection second nature for today’s youth. The nonprofit’s community now consists of 255 schools with about 168,000 students from 37 states helping to green their schools. Its popular website was launched in 2010 on Earth Day.
“Children are the answer to the problem,” said Kim Martin, one of the founding moms of Grades of Green.
The nonprofit recently received a $5,000 grant from Edison International to help schools like Hermosa Valley Elementary go green by conserving electricity.
“We are pleased to support Grades of Green so underserved students learn what they can do to protect the environment,” said Tammy Tumbling, director of Philanthropy and Community Investment at Southern California Edison, subsidiary of Edison International. “Supporting a project that merges environmental education and technology is an honor and a privilege. We know that by collaborating with our environmental partners we can have an enduring impact and help to ensure a cleaner world for generations to come.”
At the Lou Dantzler Prep Elementary School in Los Angeles, third-grader Kirsten created an Earth Club of 30 members who meet weekly to talk about everything environmental. The club has collected 2,000 pounds of clothing and shoes which were donated to a shelter. They have also collected 5,000 pounds of e-waste.
Kirsten also taught the club a “Green Cleaning” lesson where members created non-toxic cleaning supplies they were able to take home, helping to spread the word about cleaning power without dangerous fumes.
Some students go the extra mile by becoming part of the Grades of Green Youth Corps. The youth corps is a group of about 40 students who share additional environmentally-friendly ideas to make their schools as green as possible. Kirsten, Kiley, SaraJane and Reese are all members.
“Thank you for helping us be part of the youth corps,” said the girls.