Flossmoor Energy Fair 2_web
Local News

IJP Students Revved Up at Energy Fair

On March 22, Flossmoor was host to a community event where residents could gain extensive knowledge on the development of alternative energy sources, including biomass, solar and geothermal power.

  The crowd was treated to tongue-in-cheek humor and
  alternative energy information during “Sparkle White
  and the 7 Dwarfuels,” a play students put on at Infant
  Jesus of Prague School’s March 22 Energy Fair.

  (Photos by Carole Sharwarko/H-F Chronicle)

On March 22, Flossmoor was host to a community event where residents could gain extensive knowledge on the development of alternative energy sources, including biomass, solar and geothermal power.

And the whole thing was presented by middle-schoolers.
Fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students at Infant Jesus of Prague School invited family and friends to the school for the IJP Energy Fair, where they offered presentations all about energy use and conservation.
The event was part of the school’s STEAM curriculum, an optional project-based learning class focused on science, technology, engineering, art and math.
  Jalen Williams, left, a
  sixth-grader at Infant Jesus
  of Prague School, discusses
  an energy audit he
  conducted at the school
  with teammates, including
  Maura Hanley. The group
  presented their findings
  at a student Energy Fair
  on March 22.


Fifth-grade STEAM teacher Charlotte Kelly said students began the energy project just after Christmas break. Small groups spent weeks delving into their randomly assigned alternative energy subjects and assembling graphical presentation boards for the energy fair.

“The kids did a lot of research,” Kelly said. “It’s amazing; we gave them some sources and questions to ask and they just ran. They did extra research above and beyond.”
The school’s STEAM program is funded through an Energizing Student Potential grant, which provides educational materials and some basic equipment and tools for students to learn more about energy and alternative energy sources. The ESP grant is backed by power giant Exelon Corporation.
One group that had a particularly interesting research project included 12-year-old Jalen Williams, 11-year-old Maura Hanley, and 12-year-old Marley Malone. The trio adeptly presented information about energy usage and their findings of a school energy audit.
Using equipment from the ESP program, the trio surveyed the school’s boiler room, cafeteria and teachers lounge in search of wasted energy and energy “vampires.”
“An energy vampire is anything that uses energy when it’s not turned on but it’s plugged in,” explained Marley, of Monee. “Some examples are coffee pots, microwaves, refrigerators, computers and speakers.”
It turns out that the biggest energy vampire in the three areas surveyed around the IJP campus is the microwave in the teachers lounge. The lounge’s coffee pot is a close second, the students said.
“Also, the water is way too hot in the teachers lounge. That’s another way to conserve energy, is to turn down your water temperature,” said Maura, of Flossmoor.
The students said they were surprised at how much energy the vampire appliances were sucking up when plugged in. 
The group also learned about different types of light bulbs — their presentation was ringed with a string of illuminated mini-LED bulbs — and how their school uses primarily fluorescent lighting.
“I was surprised how much light we’re using in the cafeteria,” said Jalen, of Matteson. He said the energy consumption could be much less if the school were to switch to LED bulbs.
IJP staff and students are working to make the school “greener” and more energy efficient, said sixth-grade STEAM teacher Emily Yovich. She said the school’s Green Team works on recycling efforts and the IJP building sports a few solar panels on its roof.
At the Energy Fair, Yovich was supervising event-themed games in the cafeteria. The games make information relatable and offer a window into learning more, she said.
“It makes the kids realize how much they do know and that they can take that knowledge and do something with it — turn off the water, take a shorter shower,” Yovich said. 
“Their generation are the ones who are going to be dealing with the ramifications of us using our resources so quickly. And they’re going to be the scientists who are coming up with the solutions.”
The students also acted out a play, “Sparkle White and the 7 Dwarfuels.” Wearing hand-drawn sandwich board signs, they played residents of Puristan looking to solve their country’s energy woes. Each act ended with an enthusiastic chorus refrain: “Clean renewable energy makes sense for you and me!”
Once kids learn about energy conservation and how they can make a difference first-hand, they jump in and bring their families with them, Yovich said.

“It takes very little nudging,” she said.


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