The goal is pretty ambitious when it comes to educating Davis elementary school students about conserving energy: Spread the word to 3,000 students over the course of a single school year.
And they are well on their way, these UC Davis undergraduates who are serving in the Energy Service Corps., a student-run joint AmeriCorps and CalPIRG program.
“So far we’ve been to at least 10 schools,” said first-year student Nikki La, co-coordinator of the program’s “education weeks.”
“We had education weeks in October and November and now February, and our goal is to educate 3,000 students in Davis about renewable energy and how to save energy,” she said.
Last Wednesday, La and fellow students Elyse Cheung and Junette Hsin were at Willett Elementary School visiting students in the Davis Kids Klub ACCESS after-school program there.
As La had predicted, nearly all of the students had good ideas for how to save energy — from turning off lights and appliances when they’re not needed, to biking places instead of riding in cars.
But what many didn’t know, and the college students taught them, was where energy comes from and why exactly they need to save it.
“What is energy?” Cheung asked the kids.
So she had them demonstrate energy themselves — from warming their hands by vigorously rubbing them together to moving an object from one place to another.
She talked about renewable energy sources — wind, water and solar — and then about nonrenewable sources. Hsin held up a pie chart, which showed just 14 percent of the energy used is renewable and talked about greenhouse gases, global warming and polar bears losing their habitats.
“But don’t worry,” she told students, “there is a way to help.”
All those ideas they had for saving energy at home, she said — that’s how to help.
La, Cheung and Hsin are three of the nearly 30 members of the Energy Service Corps. All are undergraduates and most are majoring in environmental sciences, “though it’s open to all majors,” noted La, “so we have some civil engineering majors, econ majors.”
All expect to put 300 hours into the corps during the school year.