Pictured are Newcomerstown Middle School students who are taking part in the e3smart program.

Nc'town Middle School participating in e3smart program

Newcomerstown Middle School is participating in the e3smart program for the second year, a major outreach in innovative energy efficiency education. The e3smart program, sponsored by AEP Ohio, will expand to serve 15,960 students in 210 schools for the 2010-2011 school year. Launched last year, e3smart is offered to students in grades five through 12 within the AEP Ohio service territory and is designed to bring math and science learning into students' homes to reduce energy demands and usage. The Ohio Energy Project (OEP), an award-winning energy education organization, is administering the project. During the last school year, the program reached 10,839 students and their families in 180 schools throughout Ohio.

e3smart uses a home to school model to educate families about energy conservation and energy efficiency. Students use energy efficiency devices to learn about required energy benchmarks in the state science standards. Students take home the items used in the classroom, and apply what they learned in the classroom in their home, ultimately installing the devices. For example, students use CFLs to learn about electricity, efficiency, heat, energy transformations, and other science principles. They collect data, graph, and identify trends in data-all the best practices in science education. Then, they take home the CFLs, share their new knowledge, and install them with their families. Each participating student receives a kit of energy saving devices for use at home and activities for family participation. Once installed, these electricity and fuel-saving measures provide the opportunity to see how low-cost and no-cost measures can effectively lower energy use.

The e3smart program is part of the AEP Ohio gridSMART initiative. This cost effective program will help the company meet its targets for reducing electricity consumption enacted by the state of Ohio in Senate Bill 221. The schools and families incur no cost to participate in the program. Last year participating students reported installing 30,468 CFL light bulbs, replacing existing incandescent bulbs. The students also reported installing outlet and switch gaskets, weather stripping, door sweeps, and low flow showerheads. In addition, they adjusted their thermostats to a more efficient setting and lowered their water heating setting.

Science teachers Tara Supers and Donna Yoder attended an extensive professional development training as part of the project.

"With e3smart, our students will learn at school about energy forms, transformation and conservation. They will study the five major uses of energy in the home, and will be encouraged to apply what they learn at home to help their families save energy and money. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to reach out to so many families at our school with the energy efficient materials provided to us by AEP," said Mrs. Supers and Mrs. Yoder.

"e3smart continues AEP's long-standing tradition of enriching energy efficiency education in schools," said Jon Williams, manager, Energy Efficiency/Demand Response. "OEP's success with energy education over more than 20 years and their continued innovation with both teacher training and with the earlier pilot project made them the natural choice to implement e3smart. We are educating the next generation of AEP Ohio customers about how they can save energy for lighting, electronics and appliances, space heating and cooling, building envelope (insulation and fenestration) and water heating."

Ohio Energy Project's original initiative was implemented four years ago with the support of an Ohio EPA grant and then awarded the distinction of "Outstanding Environmental Education Project of the Year in the State of Ohio" by the Ohio EPA in 2008. It has been used multiple times since then in districts throughout Ohio. As a nonprofit organization, The Ohio Energy Project is dedicated to serving teachers and offering the best energy education materials available to teachers and students in Ohio. The OEP philosophy is "kids teaching kids;" this program is an extension of that.

e3smart is an incredible example of a partnership between families, schools, teachers, and utilities. It is a Win-Win for everyone. Teachers from grades 5-12 are embracing this program as a way to make science practical while helping families reduce their energy consumption.