Ms. Barisic's power smart grade 4/5 class

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Power Smart for Schools Team

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Rochester Elementary students power down for a school-wide challenge

June 7, 2021

3 min read

Ms. Barisic's power smart grade 4/5 class

The Power Out Challenge

For Earth Day, Alison Wagler's grade 3 students at Rochester Elementary took energy conservation to the next level by challenging all 18 divisions at their school to go lights-out for an entire day. We were thrilled to hear about the students’ power smart initiative and wanted to share their story with our community.

What was the inspiration for the event?

Leading up to Earth Day, Alison and her colleague invited their classes to come up with a challenge for the whole school. There were a lot of awesome ideas: picking up garbage, litter free day, planting and weeding—but it was the Power Out Challenge that won the vote. The two teachers thought that they would just do one hour, but the students thought one hour wouldn't make enough of a difference...so why not a whole day? The students proposed a challenge to see how long each class could go without power. No lights, no computers, no cellphones, and no other electronics of any kind.

How did it work?

The students came up with using a time card to track the amount of time classes powered down for. Each class received a time card at the start of the day, where they filled out the start time and end time going without power. The teacher then submitted the time card to a draw box where they drew for prizes afterward.

Alison and the other teachers at Rochester wanted to empower the students to see themselves as making a difference so they let the students run the event. They made the posters, recorded video announcements to send to the other classes, and even did announcements over the school PA system.

The response? Overwhelming. The whole school, including rooms like the library and resource room, went dark.

"It was pretty amazing to walk through the hallways past all the kids with their lights off. Even the library and resource teachers worked with their students without power." - Alison

What did the students take away from the challenge?

Just as they've been learning in their classrooms, the students' main take-away from the challenge is that saving energy is always a good thing to do every day of the year. Conserving energy is something we should do year round, not just for Earth Day. 

"You should do the Power Out Challenge everyday because we use power and power comes from our water. So when we waste power, we waste our water." - Duncan

In one day Rochester Elementary saved a total of 3 days, 22 hours, and 10 minutes of power. Imagine how much we could save if more schools did their own Power Out Challenges?

"I feel good that we did that challenge, we saved energy. When I'm older I want to host a challenge for the world and it might save the world not just save the school." - Ronnie

Will the students continue to be power smart about their energy use?

Alison tells us that the students will absolutely continue to be power smart. They already don't like using the lights because the fluorescent lights being used are too bright anyway, so the class turns them off when they can. The students plan to conserve their energy use by turning off lights at home and use their TVs and iPads less.


Ms. Wagler's grade 3 class promote the Power Out Challenge


Additional resources

For curriculum-aligned activities that explore ways to save energy at home and school, check out these activities with your students.

Also, be sure to visit our Conservation Hub. It has lots of great power smart tips, videos and educational resources.

Activities that explore energy use at home & at school:

Quizzes to test the conservation knowledge of students:

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Power Smart for Schools Team

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