Meet the Interns, pt. 2: Dana
One of our busier interns this summer has surely been Youth Liaison Dana Rubin. She leads an extensive effort to introduce ideas about energy efficiency to young people in Cambridge. Dana doesn’t play teacher here though–the idea is to get the right sort of educational materials into the right hands.
Ever since May, Dana’s been researching and compiling ideas for lesson plans, which present concepts related to energy use in bite-sized and fun ways. The lessons are geared towards kids age 9-13 and are very much hands-on or crafty. In one deceptively simple lesson, the children build paper pinwheels and stick them outside to twirl in the wind. At the most basic level, these toys are no different from our modern day giant wind turbines (minus the generators, of course) as a stationary device to intercept wind energy . The connections would then be drawn in discussion between wind and wind-generated electricity and why wind is considered a “clean” source. In a capstone lesson of sorts, kids get their detective caps on and become “energy sleuths,” applying what they’ve learned about energy efficient practices to find where improvements can be made at home or in school.
It’s through a set of connections between Dana and duly receptive local leaders that give life to her lesson plans. She started by meeting with program directors from Cambridge’s five youth centers: Area IV, Moore, Russell, Gately and Frisoli and has also met with Robert Lightbody (Director of Programming for all the Cambridge Youth Programs) to try to coordinate the youths’ energy efficiency activities and possibly have a competition between centers on who can reduce energy use more. Furthermore, Dana has met with Kristen Von Hoffman, Sustainability Manager of Cambridge Public Schools, to help her get a program started this fall. Lastly, efforts are being made to reach out to youths in low-income communities through Boy Scout troops. Dana hopes that her efforts will have a lasting effect–that, by introducing the right materials to the right people, programs to teach kids about energy efficiency will perpetuate.
Update - September 7, 2011: Download and view the final lesson plans (PDF)