To improve students’ understanding of energy consumption, Canadian utility Hydro-Quebec developed the 00Watt Toolkit. This kit allows students ages 10 to 12 to take part in a variety of activities, such as wattage calculations, designed to educate about hydroelectricity as an energy source and ways to reduce energy consumption. Almost 18,000 students a year have used the toolkits since they were introduced in September 2007.
|In this game that is part of Hydro-Quebec’s 00Watt Toolkit, students connect, in the right order, various facilities used in a power system, from the generating site to where electricity is consumed.|
Developing the toolkit
In the province of Quebec, 96% of all electricity consumed is produced by hydroelectric facilities. Hydro-Quebec is the largest producer of hydroelectricity in Canada, with more than 35,000 MW of capacity.
Energy efficiency is an important issue in Quebec. And because it has been proven that behaviors acquired early in life become natural habits, it is vital to teach children about energy conservation from a young age. One way to provide this education is to develop tools teachers can use in the classroom.
In 2003, Hydro-Quebec began developing a 00Watt Toolkit through a partnership with the Montreal Science Centre. The mission of this center is to help visitors acquire an understanding of science and technology for use in building their future. The goal of this toolkit is to teach students about how hydroelectricity is generated, help them understand how much energy they consume, and provide ways to avoid wasting energy. The toolkit was developed by a team of educational experts, graphic designers and associations in the education community.
Because the 00Watt Toolkit needed to contain technical data, its content was targeted toward students ages 10 to 12 (elementary grades 5 and 6). At this age, students are interested in science and the environment and are receptive to these topics. They also are very good at sharing what they learn with those around them, which extends the reach of the toolkit.
Hydro-Quebec created 59 kits in French and English.
Contents of the toolkit
The toolkit incorporates role-playing activities that involve costumes, experiments and games. By taking part in these activities, students learn about hydroelectricity through history, geography, wattage calculations and other experiments.
With the help of Inspector 00Watt, students learn how they can become conservation ambassadors. The activities are designed to be spread over five weeks, taking about two hours per week.
One experiment in the kit is designed to demonstrate the driving force of water from different drop heights. Students then study how a hydroelectric generating station works. In another experiment, students use a wattmeter to measure and compare the energy consumption of various electrical appliances and become familiar with the notion of energy-wise versus power-hungry appliances.
One game allows students to connect, in the right order, various facilities used in a power system, from the generating location to where electricity is consumed. An electronic memory game teaches students about a variety of energy-saving products, such as Energy Star-certified light fixtures or electronic thermostats. Students also can create a quiz as an introduction to electrical connections.
Each toolkit contains all materials needed for 28 activities, including a teacher’s guide and a workbook for each student. The toolkit is available through the Hydro-Quebec and Montreal Science Centre websites.
Benefits for Hydro-Quebec
Energy efficiency is one of the utility’s main focuses to raise awareness of the wise use of electricity. Strategic marketing of positive measures and behaviors is a solid approach to achieve this goal.
— By Louis-Olivier Batty, spokesperson, Hydro-Quebec Energy EfficiencyMore HRW Current Issue Articles
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