Pioneering the Local Electricity Movement
“I joined our local food movement some years ago to help reduce ‘food mile’ energy,” says Kankakee District 111 middle grade teacher Christopher Shoup. “Now I am pioneering a local electricity movement. I believe people across our state, our nation and ultimately across our planet must consider from what sources is their local electricity generated. And once those local electricity sources are identified, I want people to adopt a view that electricity is a precious commodity. My fellowship project is designed to educate District 111’s learners and staff on our local electricity, and to then inspire mindful habits and active reduction of our local electrical usage.”
Christopher and his students (84.5 percent of whom are from economically disadvantaged families) maintain a classroom where resource reduction is a daily topic. They drink from reusable water bottles, collect previously used school papers to create “green reams” of second use copy and printer paper, compost, and manage a school-wide recycling program. He saw his fellowship as an opportunity to establish a broader, district-wide resource reduction project.
For his TogetherGreen fellowship project, Christopher taught 523 school grade students about coal and oil and natural gas and the carbon cycle, climate change, renewable energies, energy and conservation, and plastics. He utilized innovative teaching methods including using Legos to create carbon-based lumps of coal that burned in theoretical fires. They demonstrated how the carbon atoms combined with oxygen to make the harmful greenhouse gas.
Christopher also created a building-wide conservation team of 10-12 year old students and purchased grade-level appropriate environmental books for both students and teachers. The program will continue into the next year by building upon the lessons and trips he developed during this school year and will expand to include new area vendors who have donated reusable items and items that will be repurposed into projects, and receiving new volunteer help from many students.