The Geography Energy Challenge aims for students to get acquainted with an important societal theme: the energy transition. The transition is a challenge for the whole world; every person and all organizations will be affected and can (and must) contribute.
The Geography Energy Challenge at ISH is a way to learn about the transition. It provides students with an impression of the importance and diversity of the energy sector in our society. The didactical approach is based on action learning: the student is an actor in the transition and is faced with questions like: what is the transition; what are our goals, what is needed to achieve them, and: what can I do contribute to the transition, what can I do to help my school to achieve its goals?
The problem or challenge is real: our society must organize its energy system in a different way and we have only two or three decades to get it done. There is broad consensus about the goals (e.g. the COP21 Paris agreement), but very little consensus about the short term actions. In the chaotic discussions, facts and fiction are sometimes hard to distinguish.
The ISH Geography Energy Challenge
In year 9 geography classes, students operated in teams. Each team addressed a concrete question, such as "How much gas and electricity does ISH use and how can this be reduced?" and "How much electricity do ISH's solarpanels generate and how much is this compared to the total energy use of ISH? Can this be improved?". There are many ways to answer the questions. The teams had to acquire knowledge to understand the status quo and the needed actions; they collected and analyzed data and made strategic choices about their approach and reflected on their choices.
Relevant fact sheets and data sets were made available, and the teams were facilitated to gain knowledge of the energy use (and production) of the school. An iBook was provided with the necessary background information about energy and how to calculate with energy. All results were presented on a "market square" (June 27, period 7) where students, staff met and shared ideas, experiences, contacts, follow up actions. The market place setting asked for comprehensive, seductive, inspiring and convincing communication strategies.
Connections in school
The Energy Challenge project is an inquiry based and authentic project, with a real purpose and audience. It is a form of Service in Action learning as students are proposing solutions to make the energy use at ISH more sustainable. The project has the Global Context of Globalisation and Sustainability demonstrating the importance of local actions and the effects on global sustainability.
Moreover, schools in the Netherlands are legally required to comply with the "Activiteiten besluit erkende maatregelen" in these legal measures the Dutch government has set out that organizations such as schools are required to take all energy saving measures that have a payback time of 5 years or less and to investigate into such measures.
ISH is an Eco-School and is proudly flying the Green Flag. The Geography Energy Challenge fulfills some of the criteria for our continued commitment to the Green Flag such as monitoring data about the school's energy use effectively using this in curriculum work by creating graphs and charts on energy usage. Moreover, during the Challenge students will be collecting evidence to show the school's progress; data, costings etc. This evidence will be analysed and evaluated to help develop future actions.