The students did several activities, one with a handful of grain. They took the grain and passed it by hand through 11 people, losing a bit of grain each time it was passed. By the time it had gone through everyone, they’d lost about half the grain, which symbolized the efficiency of a coal fired power plant.
Next they learned the difference between the three different types of light bulbs: incandescent, compact florescent, and LED. They noted the difference in heat over time, how much light it produced, and how much energy it consumed, in order to see which was the most energy efficient. The bulb that stayed the coolest, produced the most light, and consumed the least amount of energy was the LED light. The light may be more expensive to purchase, but the students decided that in the long run it would end up saving the school the most money.
The EMA students also discussed that nearly every classroom is over lit when all of the lights are turned on. The IES recommended amount of light is 30-50fc (foot-candles), and an average classroom is about 68.43fc’s. With half the lights off, the room was at 42.7fc, which is in the recommended amount of light.
At one point, all EMA participants went to Mrs. Kelly’s and Mrs. Rasmussen’s classrooms to see how energy efficient they were. The students used several tools to check this like a “watt meter” which tells you how many watts something uses and how many watts it uses in phantom mode. Phantom mode is when something is off, but still plugged in and consuming energy. 75% of power is consumed when electronics are in phantom mode, so to be sure it’s not consuming any more energy, you have to completely unplug it, or turn off the power strip.
Thomas Edison reportedly once said, “It's better to enlighten a child than to light a school room,” This just goes to show you that you don’t need to necessarily use a lot of energy in a classroom to learn something. The EMA field trip has taught us all a little bit about energy waste.