On tour with the Energy School workshops
In dialogue with Veronika Fröhlich
The Green City e.V. environmental association brings the topic of energy and climate protection to primary and intermediate schools with its Energy School Munich. Green City's team of experts discusses energy conservation, renewable energies and professions in the field of renewable energy production during interactive workshops and exciting field trips using a wide range of teaching aids.
Veronika, how is the "Sun-full of Energy" workshop implemented in a primary school class? Is it easy to excite the children for the topic?
When we're introducing the project, we ask the children which devices at home and in the classroom use up electricity. It always astonishes me how many energy hogs the children can think of! And, at the very latest when they're allowed to climb onto the power bike and try to bring the water in the kettle to boil with the power of their own muscles, all the children are full of enthusiasm and cheer each other on.
How old are the pupils and what sort of devices can they use for their experiments?
The children are between eight and ten years old. At our "Energy researcher" station they measure how much power a radio, a TV, a hair-dryer or a water boiler requires. They also learn the difference between a conventional light bulb, a low-energy bulb and an LED bulb.
Is it more difficult to awaken the interest of the older children participating in the "Energy for the Future" module at the intermediate schools?
At the beginning, yes. They often think that climate change doesn't affect them at all. However, in the course of the workshop, they begin to understand that we in Bavaria can already feel the effects of climate change too.
What exactly do you do during the project days?
We from Green City present renewable energies to the pupils in our workshops, we give them tips on how to save energy, we talk about the impacts of climate change worldwide and in Bavaria, and carry out an insulation experiment. We work together with an energy consultant who brings an infrared camera to the workshop. This goes down a treat with the children because they can take thermal pictures of themselves which they can also then take home.
Among other things, this module also addresses professional perspectives in the field of climate protection. How is this received by the young students?
Most of the pupils still don't know what they want to do when they finish school. This is a great possibility for them to get to know other professions than the ones they're already familiar with. We take them to a forest kindergarten, an organic supermarket, a community garden and to the Guild for Sanitary Engineering and Air-Conditioning Technology. The pupils can try out things themselves and ask questions about training. We've already been able to organise a few placements through the project!
How are the teachers integrated? Do they take an active part in the project? And do the contents fit in with the curriculum?
For the teachers we bring along additional material such as worksheets and experiment instructions. This allows them to return to the topics discussed once the project is over. For us, the involvement of the teachers is important for integrating the contents into daily school lessons so that they can be taught to the entire school family. In Primary 3, the "Sun-full of Energy" modules are a wonderful supplement to Social, Environmental and Scientific Education lessons. In Primary 7, the subject of climate change is an integral part of the curriculum and can be illustrated with the "Energy for the Future" module.
That all sounds very interesting. Do you get a lot of positive feedback from the children? Or from their parents?
We can see ourselves how much the children enjoy the Energy School Munich directly in our workshops. Sometimes parents write to us too that their children have reported at home with great fervour about the power bike or solar cooker. We also receive very positive feedback from the teachers. The work in small groups and independent research are particularly well received.
What do you personally like best?
What I like best about our workshops is that the children can experience the rather complex subject of energy in such a multifaceted and playful way. My favourite workshop is the solar cooker workshop. The children always wonder how we plan on cooking something with this funny satellite dish. However, when they notice themselves just how much energy is packed into the sun, and experience how they can use this power to cook, then the sun-boiled tortellini already taste twice as good!