Watt Watchers of Texas: Texas is Too Good To Waste™

Watt Watchers is an energy efficiency program designed to help schools and families save energy and money. Over the decades, Texas school districts that participate in the Watt Watcher energy patrols have saved thousands (and, in some cases, hundreds of thousands) of dollars in energy costs each year.

Time to Change Your Filters

Heating and cooling consume about half of the energy in an average household.  Therefore, knowing smart ways to make decisions about your heating and ventilating systems can impact your utility bills greatly.  Replacing a dirty filter, for example, is a simple way to increase the efficiency of your cooling or heating system, decrease the cost of your utility bill, and increase the life of your HVAC unit.  In addition, regular air filter replacements can help you have peace of mind about indoor air quality and prevent air quality from deteriorating.

Related Watt Watchers Activity

Humans have been seeking comfort since before recorded history. From the very earliest human dwellings to the mastery of fire, so many technologies are about keeping warm and cool. The advent of air conditioning is only the last line in a long story about humans taking control of their built environment.  The History of Air Conditioning activity is a fun activity designed for middle school students.  Through this activity, students can create a timeline of the history of how air conditioning was created with the help of articles online then compare their timelines with other students.

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Watt Watchers is an energy efficiency program designed to help schools and families save energy and money. Over the decades, Texas school districts that participate in the Watt Watcher energy patrols have saved thousands (and, in some cases, hundreds of thousands) of dollars in energy costs each year.

History of Daylight Saving Time

In 1784, Benjamin Franklin’s essay “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light” was published. This was the first time the idea of setting clocks forward or backwards an hour to follow seasonal changes was presented in a published source. However, no talk about taking action on this idea took place until 1907 when William Willet’s “The Waste of Daylight” was published. Parliament later introduced British Summer Time as a result.  The United States began implementing daylight saving around the end of World War I as an attempt to conserve energy.  Initially, daylight saving time was challenged with lots of public outcry, but government officials chose to enforce the time change anyways. Years later, the Uniform Time Act of 1966 was created which is still in place today.

Related Watt Watchers Activity

Every day, governments are having to consider how big challenges like daylight savings can impact and potentially improve society.  These decisions are usually very complex and can have a huge impact on society.  Our Grand Challenges activity presents Richard Smalley’s list of problems in order of importance to society, beginning with energy and moving through water, food, environment, poverty, terrorism and war, disease, education, democracy, and finally population. Analyzing the grand challenges on this list and other interdisciplinary challenges in science, engineering, and resource management is a great way to allow students to develop the kind of interdisciplinary problem solving required for the twenty-first century workforce. Looking at the analysis as a project allows for ample opportunity to assess students’ engagement with and mastery of many topics.  Let’s show students just how complex decisions like daylight savings can be, and just how large of an impact a decision like that can make on society.

Have questions about Watt Watchers or any of the activities?

We’ll send you an email to confirm your subscription.

Watt Watchers is an energy efficiency program designed to help schools and families save energy and money. Over the decades, Texas school districts that participate in the Watt Watcher energy patrols have saved thousands (and, in some cases, hundreds of thousands) of dollars in energy costs each year.

Celebrate Texas Independence Day with Watt Watchers

Texas Independence Day

Another event that’s coming up is Texas Independence Day.  March 2, 1836, Texas adopted the Texas Declarations of Independence which officially declared Texas independent from Mexico.  This document was signed by 59 delegates and marked a monumental moment in Texas history.  Sam Houston Day is also observed on March 2, to celebrate the birth of an important leader, Sam Houston, of the Texas Revolution.

Texas is too good to waste so let’s save energy together as we celebrate our history and independence.  Let’s take care of Texas by promoting the use of renewable energy through our Where Does the Wind Blow activity. In the United States, wind resources vary greatly. Several geographic pockets have much higher and more profitable wind speeds. The wind corridor of the United States extends from North Dakota south to Texas, where winds blow reasonably fast, and the land is flat and relatively affordable, a compelling combination for the construction of wind farms. This activity helps students appreciate Texas’ wind power compatibility and appreciate how cool the Texas landscape is.

Have questions about Watt Watchers or any of the activities?

We’ll send you an email to confirm your subscription.

Watt Watchers is an energy efficiency program designed to help schools and families save energy and money. Over the decades, Texas school districts that participate in the Watt Watcher energy patrols have saved thousands (and, in some cases, hundreds of thousands) of dollars in energy costs each year.

Valentine’s Day Card Recycling

Valentine's Day Card

Each year on February 14, people often will exchange cards, letters, candy, or flowers with their friends or special valentines.  Valentine’s day, or St. Valentine’s Day, was named after a mysterious saint named St. Valentine. The story of how Valentine’s Day came to be is still in some ways a mystery.  However, we do know that it likely originated from ancient Roman rituals of Lupercalia that aimed to welcome in the spring season with card-giving customs.  Now, students and adults across the U.S. and other countries often celebrate Valentine’s day through various means including the exchange of paper cards.

Students might be surprised to find most Valentine’s Day cards are recyclable. The Hunt for Recycling activity is a 30 minute to 1 hour activity that helps remove materials from the waste stream by recycling.  Knowing what to recycle is the first step to more sustainable consumption.  As a group, review with students the different categories of things that can be recycled.  This can differ by region and municipality, so you may want to consider looking up what your school recycles, or you can hunt for all recyclable materials. Then, you can send students outside in teams to find recyclable materials.  Let’s teach students to not only love and care for each other this Valentine’s Day but for the environment too!

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On January 27, the Renewable Energy Institute will be taking place to cover areas like law, economics, technology, finance, tax, and regulatory policy.  This conference is aimed at industry participants, legal and financial advisors, and key legislative and regulatory policymakers and staff seeking to learn more about changes to energy laws. The way we are able to utilize and have access to our natural resources is constantly changing. 

From a student perspective, it is important that they understand natural resources are not evenly distributed across the United States or ever across Texas. Coal, for example, is one natural resource that can be found in Texas.  The Mining for Coal activity highlights different types of coal and where the different types of coal can be found in the United States.  As regulations are dynamic and our natural resources our limited, it’s important that students understand where some of these valuable resources are located.

James Watt, a Scottish inventor, mechanical engineer, chemist, and creator of the Watt steam engine was born on January 19, 1736. A watt, the SI unit of power, equivalent to one joule per second, was named after James Watt. In addition, Watt’s contributions were fundamental to the Industrial Revolution around the world.  The Industrial Revolution contributed to an unprecedented rise in the rate of population growth and massive urbanization.  

To allow students to gain a better understanding of the differences between urban and rural areas, the Food Desert Maps activity defines what classifies an area as urbanized today.  Furthermore, this activity provides an opportunity for students to learn more about food deserts.  For the past several decades, the middle class migrated to the suburbs from city centers taking their grocery stores with them, leaving only convenience stores. These stores commonly lack an abundance of whole and unprocessed foods, meaning many low-income and urban families lack access to most of the foods that some take for granted.

To celebrate James Watt and his contributions in history, let’s take time to encourage students to be thankful for what they have and educate them about how urbanization shaped history.

The Water, Texas Film Festival is a film festival that aims to bring awareness to the vital roles water plays in our daily lives.  Our limited supply of water is used for countless things such as brushing our teeth, going for a swim, or watering our plants.  This film festival is a unique opportunity for aspiring filmmakers, Youtubers, or influencers to submit films that focus on water in Texas in some way.

This activity is perfect project-based learning activity for high school students. Some sample film topics and submission guidelines are included on our Water Texas Film Festival activity page.  Water is everywhere and this is an opportunity to communicate how impactful water is to society through the creation of diverse, informative, unique, funny, and thought-provoking films which can be shared with others across the state and nation.     

This December, the Texas Solar Summit will be taking place to create a one-of-a-kind experience that brings together the most talented and driven professionals in solar.  Solar energy is important because it is an energy type that involves capturing the sun’s energy using a range of ever-evolving technologies such as solar heating, solar thermal energy, solar architecture, and artificial photosynthesis.  There are many different types of energy sources, including light energy and heat energy.  Solar energy is unique because it creates both heat energy and light energy. 

The Solar Oven S’mores Project is a fun activity to allow students to experience the types of energy the sun creates.  This activity, designed primarily for grades K – 2, requires marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate pieces, aluminum foil, a cardboard box, and a large piece of cardboard.  By following our instructions of how to build a solar oven, students can explore the purposes of different materials such as aluminum foil.  In addition, students can learn about the source of energy being used to heat their tasty treats.

Let’s discover the power of the sun together and enjoy a nice snack in the process!

In November, the National Science Teaching Association has a convention for teachers to explore thousands of resources, lesson plans, articles, book chapters, and more. At Watt Watchers of Texas, we want to empower teachers by providing them with a library of student activities that supplement an energy conservation and energy efficiency curriculum. These exercises are designed to reinforce teacher and learning through tangible actions in students’ everyday lives.

Our activities each relate to a topic of either electricity, water, materials, cooling & heating, transportation, and food. We wanted to take some time to highlight an activity called Where Does the Sun Shine. This activity explores the potential of generating electricity from solar power in the United States. Primarily designed for middle school students, this activity shows how natural resources are not evenly distributed across the United States through a series of 15 minute procedures.

As teachers take time to explore resources and develop lesson plans for upcoming semester, Watt Watchers of Texas is here to provide, easy, tangible ways to implement energy conservation and awareness to students anywhere.

In Dallas from November 21-23, the CAST 19 conference will be taking place. CAST is one of the nation’s premier science and education conferences.  As over 5,000 passionate attendees gather together to experience three-days of everything science featuring the latest trends, cutting-edge resources, and amazing activities, we wanted to highlight a Watt Watchers of Texas activity that focuses on interdisciplinary challenges in science, engineering, and resource management.

The Grand Challenges activity explores a list of problems in order of importance to society according to Richard Smalley, beginning with energy and moving through water, food, environment, poverty, terrorism and war, disease, education, democracy, and population. Through this activity, students are encouraged to create a robust report investigating and analyzing one of the major global issues of students’ choosing. 

The 16th annual Texas Energy Summit, an education conference and business expo, will be taking place from November 12-14.  This year, the 2019 Texas Energy Summit will be hosted by the Energy Systems Laboratory (ESL) which is a division of the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Stations (TEES).  During the Texas Energy Summit, session such as “Electrifying Transportation” and “Electric Buses” will be taking place to initiate conversations and informational discussions about the future of transportation. 

Transportation is important and impacts the lives of many students.  Our Modeling Public Transportation activity is an opportunity for  students to identify the capacity of different modes of transportation.  This activity takes a problem-solving approach to move individuals from one place to another.  In addition, if students are beginning to explore algebraic representation, there is an opportunity to extend the procedure of this activity into mathematical expressions.  Visit our website for more information about this activity and others and join us in educating students about transportation and it’s future.

On October 29 & 30 the Power and Renewables Summit will be taking place in Austin as energy leaders across the energy value chain join together for conversations on how renewables are causing a shift in power markets and are creating opportunities relating to decarbonization.  Despite advances in technology, today, the global economy consumes most of its energy though only four technologies: the steam turbine, gas turbine, gasoline engine, and diesel engine. 

As new technology is developing, it has become increasingly important to educate students about the timeline of events relating to both the new and old energy technologies.  Our Energy Technologies: Change Over Time activity is a 20-30 minute activity that allows students to explore major energy conversion devices and create a timeline that illustrates the pace the energy landscape changes over time.  As the energy landscape is transforming rapidly, let’s take time to appreciate and recognize major advancements in energy technology over time!

Watt Watchers of Texas is a Partner Program of Smart Energy Education.
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