Rural Montana Kids Energy Efficiency Champs

When it comes to energy efficiency, homeowners and older people tend to lead, demographically speaking, with younger folks scoring lower on energy awareness overall. Perhaps that’s why the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) teamed up with the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) in challenging teams of third- through eighth-grade students to work with their science teachers and local utility companies to develop plans that reduce the amount of energy used to power their homes.

So who are the kids at the top of the class?

Home Energy Education Challenge Poster

image via America's Home Energy Education Challenge

Energy Secretary Steven Chu recently announced that a team of students from five schools in rural Carter County, Mont. (population 1,360)—Alzeda Elementary School, Carter County High School, Ekalaka Elementary School (K-8th grade), Hammond School (K-8th grade), and Hawks Home School—took top green marks in the nationwide competition for successfully reducing their home energy use by 3.4 percent.

To compete in the Challenge, each student team monitored and measured its energy consumption between September and November 2011, and then compared it to data collected during the same three-month period the year before.  The local utility company and community organizations came on board to engage students with strategies for cutting energy consumption at home, as did science teachers.

The five winning schools will share the $15,000 prize pot they took as both a regional and overall national winner. Secretary Chu made the announcement on a conference call with Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who had this to say about his state’s energy efficiency champs, in a statement: “It is absolutely essential that students have a solid foundation in math and science to compete in a global world. I am very proud of the students in Carter County for using those skills to make their state and country a better place for everyone by reducing their energy use.” He goes on to note that the skills the winning students have learned will be valuable for the rest of their lives.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

    • What a great story! Congrats to the students and all adults involved.