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

The Watt Watchers of Texas Blog

Texas Solar Summit

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…

Read More Texas Solar Summit

National Science Teaching Association Convention

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…

Read More National Science Teaching Association Convention

CAST 19 Conference

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. 

Read More CAST 19 Conference

Texas Energy Summit

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…

Read More Texas Energy Summit

Power and Renewables Summit

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…

Read More Power and Renewables Summit

TAEE Annual Conference 2019

On September 27 & 28 the Texas Association of Environment Education (TAEE) conference will be taking place in Galveston as a way for educators to celebrate Environmental Education in Texas.  The TAEE conference envisions residents who possess the knowledge, skills, attitudes and commitment to be stewards of the unique resources of Texas.  In spirit of helping to share applicable tools and ideas that help save the environment, we wanted to highlight an activity focused on educating students about recycling. Sometimes students are unsure of which materials can be recycled and which cannot. There are lots of common recyclable materials such as paper, plastic, and metal which get thrown away because students are not aware that they can be recycled. Our Learn What’s Recyclable activity is designed for K-5 students to teach them about recycling symbols, how to clean their recycling, and ways to reuse.  There are so many ways to…

Read More TAEE Annual Conference 2019

Energy Awareness Month

Since 1991, October has been recognized as National Energy Awareness Month.  Energy Awareness Month was created to encourage governments and organizations to raise awareness of the importance of sustainably managing the nation’s energy resources.  This year, the Department of Energy is focusing on strengthening the resilience of our federal facilities through energy optimization and enhanced cybersecurity. Every action campus-wide or at individual students’ homes contributes towards energy saving possibilities.  Our Keep Your Cool Naturally activity helps encourage students to be more aware of their energy usage and energy waste. This activity designed for students grades 3-5 teaches students about how to be conscious of cooling their homes and some key ways to keep their houses cool naturally, saving energy and money!

Read More Energy Awareness Month

Back to School

As a new school year is beginning to kick off, this is the perfect time to begin saving energy with your new students.  Starting a Watt Watchers of Texas program may seem challenging so we wanted to share some key tips from Leah Spurlock, the Assistant Energy Manager for Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, who has helped over 50 campuses save energy through the Watt Watchers Program.  1. Rolling the program out slowly to individual schools has a higher chance of success. 2. Having district level support from an Associate Superintendent or Superintendent and keeping them involved is extremely helpful. 3. Not every school may want to participate initially and that’s okay! 4. Be there to answer questions and visit campuses to show your involvement and dedication. 5. Share your success stories with other campuses.  If they see how much is being saved they might be encouraged to start saving too. If you…

Read More Back to School

Set Your Patrol Goals

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…

Read More Set Your Patrol Goals

Keeping the School Cool

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…

Read More Keeping the School Cool

New Tools for a New Year

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.

Read More New Tools for a New Year

Water, Texas Open for Entries

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.

Read More Water, Texas Open for Entries

Templates Available

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.

Read More Templates Available

Breaking Records

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.

Read More Breaking Records

Hot Texas Summers

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: Temperature: changing the temperature on the thermostat.Windows: caulking, curtains, draft doggiesWater Heater: water heater blankets cost $15-20 and are easy to installLight bulbs: CFL bulbs use less energy and are relatively inexpensive.Leaving lights on: change in habit, reminder notes Check the Home Energy Survey for the full activity instructions.

Read More Hot Texas Summers

Teach the Teacher from KLRN

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.

Read More Teach the Teacher from KLRN

Public Transportation

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?

Read More Public Transportation

Tire Efficiency

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.

Read More Tire Efficiency

Renewable Generation in Texas

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

Read More Renewable Generation in Texas

Teach the Teacher from KLRN

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.

Read More Teach the Teacher from KLRN

Know Your Renewables

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. Solar PowerGeothermal EnergyHydropowerWindBiomass 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.

Read More Know Your Renewables

TEMA Conference 2019

The Texas Energy Managers Association Conference begins tomorrow in Waco, Texas. If you’ve registered for the conference, join the Watt Watchers team as we review the past year of developments and look forward to new developments in the future. This conference celebrates the tenth year of educating and building community for Texas Energy Managers, and we’re happy to be a part of it. The Watt Watchers team will provide two sessions across two days to share updates and collect feedback. We’re looking forward to seeing you there.

Read More TEMA Conference 2019

What's On For Your Earth Day?

Earth Day (22 April 2019) is a global event mobilizing millions of people around the world into political and civic participation. Organizations and individuals in more than 190 countries around the world march, sign petitions, meet with elected officials, plant trees, and clean up their towns and roads. Corporations and public sector agencies time their pledges and sustainability measures to this auspicious day. Look around for opportunities to engage students, parents, and other community leaders on the issues, and check the Earth Day Network for pledges and actions you can implement locally as part of a global initiative. In the next week, set realistic goals for your class, your sports team, or your school and see how you can make a difference.

Read More What's On For Your Earth Day?

Itron’s Week of Resourcefulness from Discovery Education

Discovery Education and Itron, Inc. have teamed up to launch the 2019 Week of Resourcefulness. They will launch a brand new STEM investigation every day of the week. The investigations will be designed for teacher-directed, activity based learning, and they will explore the unexpected connections between energy and water. They will release a companion guide to continue the learning at home. Conservation Station: Creating a More Resourceful World also contains a virtual field trip focusing on smart cities with a fully developed educator guide and links to additional resources. All content is created in partnership between Discovery Education and Itron with the goal of promoting energy-water literacy and conservation efforts through the innovative use of technology.

Read More Itron’s Week of Resourcefulness from Discovery Education

More About Recycling

Ever wonder what happens to those materials when they go into the blue bin? On today’s Global Recycling Day, take your students the step farther and explore what comes next. Keep America Beautiful and the Ad Council created a succinct online reference and game that explains the rest of the recycling lifecycle. Build your own municipal sorting facility (MSF) by placing different sorting machines along a conveyor in the Super Sorter Game. Follow steel cans, cardboard boxes, cartons, and glass bottles on their way back into your life in the Recycling Journey. With each experience, ask your class if the outcome is expected or if recycling still has some surprises.

Read More More About Recycling

Global Recycling Day

The Global Recycling Foundation created Global Recycling Day in 2018 in an effort to get more individuals engaged with the concept of recyclables being a resource rather than waste. Falling on 18 March every year, Global Recycling Day is an opportunity for individuals across your school and community to become laser focused on what they are doing to recycle. Look around for opportunities to engage students, parents, and other community leaders on the issues, and check the website (linked above) maintained by the Bureau of International Recycling for resources and educational materials for your stakeholders. In the next week, set realistic goals for your class, your sports team, or your school and see how you can make a difference.

Read More Global Recycling Day

Turning Trash Into Treasures

Conservation isn’t always about using less. Especially when looking at materials, conservation can take the form of using something for another purpose in order to reduce the overall burden of waste entering landfills. Consider ways to reuse material waste, such as projects celebrating creative expression. One of the Watt Watchers activities developed as part of the relaunch outlines different ways to reuse common waste materials to tell creative stories or to illustrate scenes from history or literature. Aligned for students from kindergarten through middle school, this interdisciplinary activity looking at Junk Art is sure to provide stimulating context for reusing old materials in new ways.

Read More Turning Trash Into Treasures

Join the Ambassadors

If you are using the original version of the Watt Watchers materials or the new version currently being released, then you may be interested in becoming a Watt Watchers ambassador. This informal group of educators, energy managers, and other stakeholders meets remotely via teleconference about once per month to discuss the progress of the project, to swap lessons learned and success stories, and to provide valuable suggestions from users to inform the development of the program moving forward. Participation in the ambassadors program is one way to make your mark on this exciting revitalization of a popular program. Reach out via email to contact@watt-watchers.com in order to join our distribution list. You’ll receive regular updates and meeting invitations that you can join as your schedule permits. We look forward to hearing from you.

Read More Join the Ambassadors

Teaching the Language of Energy

One of the obstacles to becoming an energy expert is that the energy sector uses specialized vocabulary. Becoming fluent in energy requires mastering the terminology and its nuances. There are many different background terms, units, and phrases that need to be mastered on the way toward fluency. For example, understanding the difference between primary and secondary energy is key to understanding many technical and policy discussions around energy at the global and local levels. Watt Watchers features an interactive lesson designed specifically for this purpose, available as part of the suite of new materials designed for the launch of Watt Watchers of Texas. Energy Resources: Primary vs. Secondary is aligned to sixth grade Texas standards. The activity includes a handy infographic and a drag-and-drop activity to jump start your journey toward energy literacy.

Read More Teaching the Language of Energy

Printed from wattdev.wpengine.com. Copyright © 2018 The University of Texas at Austin.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram