It’s often said that the best way to learn is to teach — and that’s exactly what a class of eighth-graders is doing in Jackson County, North Carolina.

Amanda Clapp, their science teacher, started what she calls the “Energy Buddies Program.” First, she invited experts from Western Carolina University to teach the students where electricity comes from and help them conduct an energy audit of each classroom. She then asked her eighth-graders to teach what they learned to younger students.

Clapp: “The eighth-graders took these energy audit checklists and went to kindergarten and second and third grade, and went through them with their small groups of younger students.”

They calculated the average annual cost of running a classroom, and then created projects to reduce waste.

Clapp: “Some students sat down with their groups and made a pledge for the classroom. I pledge to turn off the lights — that kind of stuff.”

Others put up signs around the school reminding fellow students to save energy. Clapp says it was inspiring to watch.

Clapp: “It’s so nice to see thirteen and fourteen-year-olds take responsibility. I think that is such a huge growing and learning experience.”

And it’s a lesson that should last their entire lives.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Copyright protected.

More Resources
North Carolina Science Teachers Association
Center for Essential Science

Sara Peach

Sara Peach is the Senior Editor of Yale Climate Connections. She is an environmental journalist whose work has appeared in National Geographic, Scientific American, Environmental Health News, Grist, and...