Students Learn About Sustainability

MGE partners with local educators to share lessons in energy efficiency.

Students learn about sustainability

It's shortly after 9 a.m. on a Thursday at Madison's Cherokee Heights Middle School. A few dozen 8th grade students file into their science class to find a number of small electronic devices set up across the room.

MGE Community Education Manager Jim Jenson smiles as he prepares to teach the students about the value of energy efficiency, a lesson he has been teaching in local schools for decades.

"When you leave here today, you guys are going to be armed with a lot of knowledge you can take home and share with your family about using energy," Jenson tells the class.

Equipped with "watts up?" energy meters, Jenson shows the students how to calculate the energy use of common tools, like a pencil sharpener. Each device plugs into a meter. The meter then displays the number of watts it takes to operate the device. Using a worksheet provided by MGE, students then can calculate the estimated cost of the energy used.

The demonstration is done in partnership with the Wisconsin K-12 Energy Education Program (KEEP). MGE works with KEEP to develop lessons on energy efficiency as part of the program's School to Home initiative, designed to help the students apply the lessons learned in class to everyday life. One of those lessons, Jenson says, is to show how energy conservation helps save money but also represents how we all can practice good environmental stewardship.

Students learn about sustainability
Students learn about sustainability

To help the students share what they learned, each takes home an energy conservation kit, complete with two LED lightbulbs and other energy-saving items.

"I think a lot of them are not aware of how to save energy and actually what the cost is, so, I think this is super helpful to them, because I think then they can bring this information home," said Karla Loftus, an 8th grade science teacher at Cherokee Heights. "Hopefully they'll carry those habits and obviously it would be more beneficial for our environment and our earth."

Energy efficiency is a key priority under MGE's Energy 2030 framework for a more sustainable future. By reducing our use, we can reduce our environmental footprint and save long term.

Visit to learn more about how we work with the next generation of energy consumers—and stay tuned for more about our annual Earth Day Fun Books for teachers and students!

Interested in an energy meter?

Portable energy meters like those used in class are available at local libraries.

published: 02-02-2018