The Environmental Volunteers – Part Three

What can I do?

Energy and Natural Resources

I used to follow my granddaughters from room to room turning off lights in their wake. All the while I grumbled about kids nowadays not understanding the importance of conservation. That was before I found the Environmental Volunteers and discovered that kids nowadays do understand the importance of conservation when it is taught to them.

The Energy and Natural Resources Service by the Environmental Volunteers introduces fourth or fifth-grade children to the importance of energy in our lives, renewable and sustainable sources of energy, the impact of those sources on the environment, and ideas for reducing that impact – including ideas that the children themselves can promote and implement!

My favorite Kit in the Environmental Volunteers arsenal for the Energy and Natural Resources Service is the “Carbon Footprint Game.”

The Carbon Footprint Game is a board game. The children usually play the game in pairs, each with a board the size of a placemat. Each placemat is “pre-loaded” with descriptions of general living conditions such as the size of the household in which an imaginary family “lives.” These conditions determine how many “carbon” pieces the children earn (little plastic chips that represent given units of carbon). During the course of the game, the children draw cards that specify the type of cars their fictional family drive, their travel habits, what foods they eat, their recycling habits (or lack thereof), and any number of lifestyle choices which impact their carbon footprint. Each choice is associated with a given amount of carbon. The object of the game is for each pair of children to collect the fewest number of carbon pieces as they progress through the game. The children have no control over the content of the cards, so they are not really making the lifestyle choices. However, during the course of the game the reasons that some choices generate more carbon than others become evident – and the children cheer each other on when the choice outlined on the card results in fewer carbons or, sometimes, a subtraction of carbons from their possession.

The game can get noisy and the children rarely want to stop! However, by the end of the game, they are well aware of decisions they themselves can make to reduce their carbon footprint. Like turning off the lights when they leave a room.

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