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The Bet: Kids vs Politicians energy challenge
Hana Loftus, 5 Dec 06
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The Dutch may have to battle a reputation for being somewhat dull in the flesh, but they come up with the best ideas when it comes to all things sustainable. This year's edition of the youth programme 'The Bet' has just concluded. A brilliantly simple idea, it involves schools betting their local politicians that they can beat the EU's energy savings targets within a given time period, and if they succeed, the politician agrees to undertake an energy saving initiative of their own, such as cycling for a month or installing wind turbines on their offices. If they fail, the kids propose a forfeit that has ranged from driving the politician around for a day in a hand-pulled rickshaw, to cooking meals or cleaning up a local park.

This year's stars are from a school in the new town of Almere, where they took things a step further by challenging the national environment minister to save more energy than them over four weeks. Mediated and measured by the Friends of the Earth, the kids got their school (which was already equipped with wind turbines) to change over to green electricity, switch off computers overnight, turn off lights on bright days and even scrapped the coffee machine for a day.

They managed to cut their energy use by 33%, beating the minister's 20% - despite him deciding to switch the ministry's car fleet to natural gas. The enterprising school have won a 2000 euro display panel which will monitor the power coming from the school's turbines - and their muscles are saved from having to push a rickshaw all day.

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This is a great idea on so many levels. Not only does it create good publicity for the schools and the politicians, but more importantly, it gets kids involved. Not simply for them to collect pop cans, but to actually participate and understand how everything they do has a cause and effect. I wish schools across America would take this kind of initiative but there's become such a disconnect, that most schools would not know where to start. I doubt most kids would even know what a wind turbine does. I look forward to the day where environmental studies becomes standard in schools across America.

Posted by: Karl on 6 Dec 06

Here is a project that I would like to share that seems to be another opportunity for an energy challenge.
I am a retired science teacher who is still very passionate about teaching environmental education. The importance of teaching ENERGY EDUCATION and CONSERVATION to everyone is to ensure that we can positively affect our planet’s future. With evidence of Global Warming being regularly reported we need to become concerned about wise use of energy.

MAD3 (Make a Difference3) gives middle and high school students the opportunity to make a difference by going into their community and helping others, to help others, to help others to understand that each of us CAN make a big difference NOW in reducing the production of greenhouse gases.

ENERGY HOGS, is an environmental board game that develops energy saving ideas that can be shared in schools, clubs, at home, with friends and in the community. While helping to reduce pollution and global warming, participants can sense that they are making a difference and can feel proud of getting others to sense their enthusiasm and join in the program.

After teaching young people how to play the game, those who would like to introduce ENERGY HOGS to their family and friends are given the game. They can continue making connections to others who are looking for ways to make a difference.

These outreach efforts seek those donors who wish to provide classes, schools, districts, and camps with copies of the ENERGY HOGS game. Students can then go in the field and feel professional about sharing their new found interest in Energy Conservation. MAD3 will also raise test scores as an improvement of reading, math and writing skills will result from the united effort and interdisciplinary nature of the program.

Making community connections can motivate middle school students to become agents of change. They will be able to sense that they have the ability to make a difference. The key to getting the students hooked on the importance of energy conservation is with the environmental board and card game -ENERGY HOGS made by Green Games. (

Empowering people of all ages to become knowledgeable about how choices affect their ecological footprint can be a very valuable lesson for the global citizen of today and tomorrow.

Participants in the program will set up an energy awareness evenings at local schools where parents and their children will view and have a discussion about Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth?. They will learn how to play the Energy Hogs game that will be led by students at the school.

Energy Hog Games will be raffled off to parents/child attendees depending on the number of that grants provide/ games that have been donated to the school.

Please call 718-965-9814 Barry Weinbrom for more information on how to join the network of people who are interested in MAD3 Let your energy and efforts add more power to the MAD3 program.

Thank you,
Barry Weinbrom
Environmental Educator

Posted by: Barry Weinbrom on 25 Dec 06



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