What does Red Sox opening day have to do with one school’s electricity use?
It can be difficult to find ways to engage students in environmental sustainability projects, but adding some friendly competition can go a long way. The Fenn School in Concord, Massachusetts is using America’s favorite past-time, baseball, to encourage their students to be more conscious of electricity use. Cameren Cousins, Fenn’s Sustainability Coordinator, introduced Lightbulb Baseball three years ago. The game marries education and fun -- and has managed to flip off 617 switches in the process! The students look forward to the competition each year, and the school uses it to introduce energy conservation habits they hope to carry through the rest of the year.
Rules of the Game
Have you ever noticed a room at your school that is empty, but the lights are on? During Lightbulb Baseball season, those empty but well-lit classrooms represent an opportunity to score.The game begins with a school-wide assembly on the Red Sox's opening day. The rules are simple: the school is divided into two teams, and both teams have sections of the school designated as their home field.
By turning off light switches, monitors, projectors, and computers marked with a green sticker when they are not in use, students score “hits.” If the room is on the opposing team's turf, it counts as an “out” against the opposing team. Larger rooms, like the gym or theater, count as a double or triple run. Students self-report their outs and hits on a campus-wide Google doc.
According to Cousins, “Each year, a group of super enthusiastic and competitive students scan the hallways looking for hits and outs. Their spirit is contagious.” That enthusiasm pays off. At the end of the month, the school meets again to see the results and the winning team gets awarded an extra five points for Field Day. Cousins reports that “there is always a big cheer when we announce the winner at the assembly.”
The results add up to more than spirit and fun. Lightbulb Baseball actually conserved enough energy that the reductions appeared on the school’s electricity monitoring system. In fact, Cousins was proud to report that in one of their buildings students reduced electricity use from 247 kilowatt hours per day down to 193 kilowatt hours during the 2017 Lightbulb Baseball season, a 22% reduction!!
Lightbulb Baseball has proven to be a home run for Fenn’s sustainability efforts, and with so many ways to modify the rules, it can be applied to suit any school or district.
Sustainability & Health Intern at Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants.