Written by Dwight Bachman
On April 26, more than 225 Connecticut students in grades 4 through 12 gathered at the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford to have their research and development plans for climate change solutions evaluated by a panel of judges. The event was part of the "Keep Connecticut Cool Challenge," a statewide contest for students to create climate change solutions for their towns and communities.
For teams entering the contest for the first time, E. O Smith High School in Storrs won the $3,000 prize for having the Best Overall Sustainability Plan. Lyman Memorial High School in Lebanon won the $1,000 prize for its use of teamwork in developing their sustainability plan, and South Windsor High School won the $1,000 prize for its use of collaboration in developing their sustainability plan.
For teams continuing in the contest, the SEMI Program at Nathan Hale Elementary School in New London won the $3,000 prize for the Best Overall Sustainability Plan. Danbury High School won the $1,000 prize for the best use of teamwork in developing their sustainability plan, and Coventry High School won the $1,000 prize for continuing teams for the best use of collaboration in developing their sustainability plan.
The contest is administered by the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University and funded through the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund. Towns represented in the challenge included Avon, Bridgeport, Bristol, Burlington, Coventry, Danbury, East Hartford, Hartford, Lebanon, Mansfield, New Haven, New London, North Stonington, Northford, Norwalk, South Windsor, Storrs, Trumbull, Waterford and Westport.
The students have been working on their projects for the past six months. Prizes totaling $10,000 were presented with awards in separate categories for teamwork, collaboration, and best overall plans. Project plans for raising climate awareness included conducting energy audits; installing thermostats and sensors; replacing lights; promoting energy-saving behaviors; incorporating the replacement of Styrofoam trays in lunchrooms; raising climate awareness among students and community through TV messages; family forums; film festivals; energy fairs; and projects to purchase rainforest land and carbon sequestration.
Keep Connecticut Cool was started in 2006 as the Cool It Challenge, hosted by Clean Air-Cool Planet and funded by the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation. The program changed names to Keep Connecticut Cool in 2008 and is now funded by the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund. To date 78 teams, involving more than 800 students have worked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their schools and communities.
The ISE was established in 2001 to identify, develop and implement the means for achieving a sustainable energy future. The Institute focuses on matters relating to energy education, energy policy, efficiency conservation and load management, renewable energy, distributed generation, protection of environmental resources, and the dissemination of useful information on energy alternatives and sustainability to users and providers of energy. The Institute adds an unbiased focus on practical applications and dissemination of information about how to improve the energy profile and sustainability of Connecticut and the region.
The Institute is funded and supported by the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund through the Energy Conservation Management Board and the Department of Public Utility Control. The Institute also receives grants, conference sponsorships, donations, contracts, and payments for services from organizations, including the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, U. S. Department of Energy, Connecticut Office of Policy and Management, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, and the Connecticut Green Building Council. For more information about the Keep Connecticut Cool Challenge, visit www.sustainenergy.org.