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

As you're planning the new year of student patrols, think of the following questions:

Where, when and how often will the Watt Watchers patrol? Consider times when classrooms are normally empty such as lunch, recess, before and after school. Which rooms and areas will be included? Will any areas be off limits? Do you want to include doors, windows, ceiling fans, computers or other wasters? How will the bathrooms, stage areas, teacher’s workroom, offices and closets be handled? Where will the Watt Watcher patrols pick up and store their supplies? What extra supplies will you need? These are all things that you will need to decide before setting up your team of patrols.

In addition to those logistical plans, consider working together with other teachers, administration, or across schools in your district on Student Patrols goals for the coming school year. Evaluate those goals periodically and don't shy away from adjusting them depending on how circumstances change. As you're nearing the end of the year, think about how to further celebrate your success in relation to your goal.

As you and your students are preparing for coming back to school for a new year, remember the daunting task for the school administration, energy managers, and facilities staff of preparing the school for you. One of the biggest challenges and opportunities each year is taking the school back to normal operating temperature.

Even if the air conditioners are not shut off for the break, there's a big difference between cooling empty facilities and cooling those full of excited learners. And it's a monumental task. Some schools and utility operators estimate that cooling K-12 schools claims roughly 35% of those buildings’ overall electricity consumption, by and large the greatest percentage of any end use. These costs mount, but cutting them cuts the quality of life for students and teachers. Fortunately, air conditioning powered by electricity is not the only way to keep cool in school.

The Watt Watchers of Texas team has prepared a project-based learning activity appropriate for high school students looking across the country at different ways to keep schools cool without the big drain of electrical air conditioning.

In the coming school year, the Watt Watchers team is piloting digital tools for the Student Patrols program. The tried and true resources will continue to be available on the Resources page.

If you are interested in becoming a pilot school for the new digital tools, please contact us at contact@watt-watchers.com.

If you're looking for an interdisciplinary project-based activity to kick start your new school year, look no further than the Water Texas Film Festival. Any aspiring filmmakers, YouTubers, or influencers will find their talents uniquely suited to this media challenge. Even those with less experience will find that the tools for production and distribution are right at their fingertips. Also, this activity addresses TEKS for not only social studies but also for the A/V Technology and Communications strand that was implemented in the 2017-2018 school year.

There's still one month left of open submissions for the Water Texas Film Festival presented by the Texas Water Foundation. Films eligible for a prize must focus on water in the state of Texas, be less than 10 minutes in length, and be submitted by September 1, 2019.

For more information visit the Water Texas Film Festival online.

The Student Patrol Program is the heart of the Watt Watchers of Texas. Your students will join Lil’ Tex and Ann as official Watt Watchers, helping to save Texas by rounding up the Wasters Gang.

We’ve made lots of templates for you to use here. Print out name badges for the Watt Watchers to wear on patrol. Print tickets or door hangers for the patrol to leave when the find energy being wasted or saved. Print copies of the Patrol Record and Patrol Record Guide to use during patrols.

While you're preparing for your new school year, check out the Resources page to get your templates downloaded today and the revised Teachers' Guide to aid your planning.

One year ago today, Texas set a new record for electricity demand, surpassing the previous record set in August of 2016. For the first time ever, the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) the organization that operates and maintains the Texas electrical grid, reported an hourly peak load of 72,192 megawatts (MW).

ERCOT expected the record-breaking demand and prepared for the situation with their planned demand response mechanisms, which support the electricity market every day of the year.

You can read more about the record breaking surge and ERCOT's relationship with the grid at their website.

Texas knows heat, and the long summer pushes demand higher and higher through the summer months. Air conditioning contributes a large portion of demand for electricity every summer (and some winters too), but that's not the whole story. In addition to air conditioning, there are lots of ways around the house (and school) where we use energy.

We turn on appliances and walk through rooms every day without a thought to where the electricity comes from, or how much they are using. The Home Energy Survey and Energy Checklist are ways to make the students aware of what they are using throughout the day.

Some things to consider include:

Check the Home Energy Survey for the full activity instructions.

Watt Watchers has partnered with KLRN, San Antonio's public television affiliate, to offer professional development directly related to Watt Watchers. Attendance at KLRN sessions earns continuing education credit for Texas teachers.

Training sessions scheduled for over the summer are currently being scheduled, so subscribe to our newsletter near the bottom of the home page or check back here for new information as we finalize plans.

For any questions on implementation or instructional support between sessions, email the team at contact@watt-watchers.com.

During the school year, students could arrive to school by car, by bus, or even walking or by bike. Even over the summer, many cities leverage buses as part of their public transportation strategy in order to keep people mobile while reducing pollution and community costs.

The Watt Watchers team has prepared an activity that looks at the difference between private cars and public buses for local transportation. This activity looks at fuel mileage and efficiency of different modes of transportation.

What's Your Mode?

Once school is out, lots of families hit the road through the summer months. Whether by car, train, or plane, lots of Texans take advantage of the wide open space to travel and explore new places. Watt Watchers is taking the month of June to look at transportation.

Looking first at private automobiles, America is driving around on under-inflated tires, according to a recent survey. Under-inflated tires lower gas mileage, wasting millions of dollars each year. Under-inflated tires are also a major safety hazard. Thousands of accidents each year may be caused by poor handling due to under inflated tires.

Watt Watchers has two activities focused on auto tire pressure, which are appropriate for school or home use. And other activities relating to transportation are collected under the Transportation theme.

From Houston's energy corridor to Dallas, Texas is known as a big energy state. Many know the state ranks highly in oil and gas production (and consumption) but everyone should know about Texas's strong renewable sector.

For example, Texas leads the country in wind-powered electricity generation.¹ However, solar, conventional hydro, municipal solid waste, wood waste, and biomass all contribute to the Texas's energy landscape.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration collects data and analysis regarding national and state energy statistics. You can find all of this publicly on their website.

  1. https://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=TX

The Watt Watchers focus for the month of May is Renewable Energy. Here's a list of all the activities related to renewable energy that are part of the Watt Watchers archive.

Each of these activities references Energy 101: Energy Technology & Policy. Access to Energy 101 for Texas students and teachers is provided for free by the State Energy Conservation Office as part of the Watt Watchers of Texas program. Read more about the sponsorship and request access today.

Watt Watchers of Texas is a Partner Program of Smart Energy Education.
Watt Watchers of Texas. Copyright © 2021 The University of Texas at Austin. All Rights Reserved.
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