UNI Student Energy! Project
Projects and Activities
Student involvement and student leadership are essential to project success. The students' self-education and participant-generated aspects of the project are based on the psychological techniques that if individuals participate and develop their own plan of action, they will be more likely to carry out that plan.
Because this is a student-led project, the activities will vary depending on the students involved. Students develop and design the ideas for encouraging others to save energy. The project faculty/coordinator/research assistants are there to facilitate ideas. Student involvement makes the project exciting, but it also means you will not always know what to expect.
After gathering a core group of 10-15 students interested in the project, we met weekly to develop and carry out activities that would help their peers be more aware of their energy use and encourage them to reduce energy use in their dorm rooms and common areas.
Website : http://www.uni.edu/studentenergy -- this web site lists the activities from a student perspective. Here we will look at them from an educator's perspective.
Energy Heroes - students who were considered opinion leaders in their houses were asked to be Energy Heroes. We also asked all Resident Assistants if they would be Energy Heroes. Energy reps also became Energy Heroes. All they had to do was have their picture taken and provide a short quote from one of the following questions: 1) What do you do to reduce energy use in your room? 2) What would you do? 3) Why do you think it is important to save energy?
- We took pictures of only the student's head, printed it, and placed it on top of a drawing of the Energy Hero figure with a "bubble" that had the student quote in it.
- These posters were displayed in residence halls and changed every week or two to display new Energy Heroes.
- Energy T-shirts/Logos - T-shirts were designed and provided for the Energy Teams which included the logo on the front and the student's name and "Energy Rep" on the back. One year, the students chose a "lightbulb" police idea and another year they chose the Energy Hero.
T-shirts are a good idea because they:
- give team members visibility in the residence hall
- provide credibility and identification for Energy Reps when they knock on students' doors to talk about energy saving
- show that the students are leaders in this student project
- T-shirts are a good idea because they:
Energy Challenge - this idea gains visibility for the project, encourages students to think about their energy use, and presents them with a Plan of Action to complete. Energy Team members paired up and surveyed random rooms each week for 7-8 weeks observing students' energy use in their rooms. They used a checklist developed by the researchers and students. The House with the lowest score each week won a pizza party.
- An important component of this project was the opportunity to talk with residence members about their energy use and how to reduce it. For example, Energy Reps could explain how to put a computer into sleep mode, why it is a good idea to turn off your computer at night, or help students fill out a "repair" slip if their room was always too hot or a faucet dripped.
- These are friendly visits that always end by giving the room resident a compliment on his/her energy savings. It could be something as simple as "I see that your window is closed (during the winter). That's a good way to save energy." At the same time, posters were made with energy related facts on them to give students information about how to reduce energy use in the rooms and why.
- The room check evaluation form included minus points for things like TV on and not being watched; excessive light on during the day; computer monitor on when not being used; and phone charger plugged in but not in use. Positive points were given for things like temperature of the room lower than 70 degrees or window insulated. The competition generated a lot of interest.
- The random room checks were done in a positive way, with energy team members giving at least one compliment to each room checked. The room checks appeared to generate a lot of "buzz", made energy use more salient to residents, and were generally positively received.
Pizza Party - the winning house each week for using the least energy won a pizza party! The house RA set the time, date, number and kind of pizzas they wanted. We made some phone calls and found several pizzerias that would give a discount for quantity orders during the year.
- Public Statement : At the pizza party, students were asked what they did to reduce energy. In this way, they made a public statement of their actions taken or contemplated. This was also a time to educate another group of students about the reasons/urgency for energy reduction and what actions students could take.
- Students had an opportunity to fill out their personal Plan of Action for reducing energy use.
- Pictures of the winning floor members were taken and put on several signs in the residence hall announcing who had won the pizza party for the week. This activity, with high visibility of peer groups, was aimed at showing students that others were reducing energy, it was a cool thing to do, and ways that all students could become involved.
- Pizza parties are another chance to take head shots of student opinion leaders, get quotes from them on what they do to save energy in their rooms, and then use those quotes and pictures on Energy Hero posters.
- Personal Energy Reduction Plans - When random checks were done or at pizza parties, students were encouraged to fill out a personal plan for reducing energy use in their dorm room. They were asked to check the actions they would take this week, next week, next school year, and in five years. Actions ranged from turning off unused lights or putting computers into sleep mode (this week), to looking for energy efficient housing or buying a fuel efficient car (in five years). With student permission, the names of students who signed a plan were posted in several prominent parts of Dancer Hall. Also, a week or so after the students made the plan, team members visited the student's room and asked how the plan was going. This activity was related to community-based social marketing. It showed students who else was making a plan and encouraged students to take specific actions. The activity related directly to the grant project threory that having people make a plan for action is a necessary component for taking action.
- Room Energy Calculator - From the student web page , students can go to a calculator program in Excel that lets them estimate the amount of electricity their room uses in a week and in a semester. Wattages of common appliances are already listed so the students put in how much they use the appliances they have in their room and the program does the calculation to show them how many watts they use and what it costs from the local utility. The Room Energy Calculator lets students see how many appliances they have in their rooms and is one more way for them to see what a difference their individual actions to reduce energy use could make.
Energy Promotional Items: Buttons, Mini-Banners, Bottle Stickers
- Students made "Save Energy" buttons and gave them away to encourage peers to save energy and be thinking of the idea. Buttons are for backpacks, shirts, whatever students would put them on.
- Mini-banners were also handed out to promote the Energy Challenge. They read: "Save Energy - Energy Challenge." Mini-banners were 6 x 2.5 inches. Students put them on bulletin boards outside their rooms, in their room, on notebooks, anywhere.
- The Energy Team also wanted to get clear, plastic, adhesive labels with the Energy Hero to put on water bottles or notebooks. These could be economically made by purchasing packages of clear adhesive plastic commercial labels, set up the sticker design to match the number of labels on a sheet, and run the sheets through an ink jet printer.
Energy Festival - Energy Reps developed this idea after making a list of energy reduction actions they can take in their rooms or common areas to reduce energy. We also discussed how to involve other residence hall students. Energy reps divided into teams facilitated by research assistants to plan the two-day spring festival.
- Their teams were: Games, Bake-off, Movie Night, and Power Your Room
Battle of the Sexes: Energy Crisis Quiz Event - Energy Team members held a "Battle of the Sexes," the title of several quiz style events in the residence hall that pits men against women. Their specific event was "Battle of the Sexes: Energy Crisis" in which they developed true/false questions on energy issues in student living. They promoted the one-time event with posters, surprise boxes on display to entice students to attend and win prizes, and announcements.
Intermission Events included :
- Energy Pyramid - using 50 empty pop cans, each team (men vs. women), had to stack them into a pyramid as fast as possible.
- Crush the Cans - see which team could crush the five cans the fastest.
- Can Toss - competition to see which team could pitch the most crushed cans into a recycling bin. One of the students later recylced all of the cans.
- Like the whole project, this event was student run. It attracted interested students who did a good job answering the questions. They also put their names in a hat and names were drawn for prizes that included groceries, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and micro pillows.
- Intermission Events included :
Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb Raffle - students held a drawing for a compact fluorescent light bulb to see if students in the manipulation group would be more likely than students in the control group to pay $1.00 to put their name into the drawing. Promotional posters were made and displayed before the two-day event in both dorms. Drawing slips were sold on two days in the late afternoon and early evening when many students are coming from classes and going to the dining center for dinner. The goal was to see if students who were educated about energy reduction would be more willing to take an action connected with the goal.
- Although few students actually paid the dollar, there was a distinct difference in attitude and comments between members of the two residence halls. Students in the manipulation group who stopped at the light bulb table knew about compact fluorescent light bulbs and why they are a good idea. They also made positive comments to Energy Team members saying things like, “My parents have some of those light bulbs,” or “I'm getting an apartment this summer and going to put in some of those light bulbs.” Whereas in the control dorm, some students were actually rude to the Energy Team members and degrading about the drawing. They laughed at the idea that someone would pay $1 for a light bulb raffle and some made snide remarks like “they should pay us to use a light bulb.”