In 2017/18, we helped teachers fund materials for energy related, project based learning by matching grants through

Below are a variety of ideas for energy efficiency projects:

E – Elementary Students

M – Middle School Students

H – High School Students

(This is a rough guide to appropriate ages. Be creative!)

Whatever your grade level or subject area, there are ways of including the area of energy efficiency into your curriculum. Projects can be simple one-time ‘workshops’ in class. They can include guest visitors and question and answer sessions. They can include presentations that can grace the school’s hallways, or even the public library or bank or city hall down the street. One middle school in Florida studied, designed, and implemented cost-saving energy-conservation projects that increased their school’s energy efficiency by 28% in one year. They took what they learned and gave a presentation at a nearby airport, and this led to new sustainability initiatives at that airport!

Energy efficiency lends itself to project-based learning, developing critical thinking skills from K-12 while increasing academic content. Students are involved in real-world challenges in a collaborative setting, preparing them for the challenges they will be part of as they grow up. This project-based learning provides an ideal opportunity for interdisciplinary learning, developing and applying skills in research, data collection and analysis, writing and presenting in a variety of ways.

History Class Project:  

  • How has energy in our school changed? Interview janitor and principal. E/M
  • Explore historic ways of using and conserving energy, understand how our energy consumption patterns have changed throughout history, and identify ways that our modern technologies can become more efficient. Prepare either film or wall charts that can be shown at public library, at school, at town hall. M/H

English Class:

  • Vocabulary, sorting renewables and non-renewables, spelling. Create as teams games, puzzles, etc. for other elementary school classes. E
  • Write short stories as teams (some write, some illustrate) about how a family saves energy and money by making some changes in their home. Books can be donated to school library. E/M/H
  • Create a penpal program with children in another place (maybe even another country) and share information on energy efficiency with penpals. Create a notebook of the exchanges to share with other classes and explain. M/H
  • Write letters to the editors of local papers (or news articles) on subject of energy efficiency and why it is important. Extra points if letters relate to current events. M/H

Social Studies Class:

  • Find out about energy efficiency practices in foreign countries that class is studying. Create team presentations (one team could do recycling, one team on renewables, etc.) for parent-teacher night program or PTA meeting. M/H
  • Create a campaign for a school-wide pledge campaign to reduce energy usage. Display pledges in a public place. Include information on personal pledge, family pledge, classroom, and school pledges. M
  • Survey all computers in school and determine how many are left on all night. Find a way to retrain teachers and students to turn them and lights off for the night. Have teams of students write article for school newspaper on results, also letter to editor about results. Send that letter also to several large companies in area. (Younger students can design stickers to place on light switches and computers.) M
  • Energy efficiency wall: Designate a wall in the school corridors on which a collage of energy news articles can be blown up and displayed for all to see (older students). Have team of students give a ‘tour’ of the wall on a parent-teacher night. M/H
  • Energy efficiency wall: Designate a wall in the school corridors on which a collage of drawings of different ways to reduce our energy usages can be displayed (younger students). E
  • Imagine that the mayor of your town asked your class to develop a plan for reducing CO2 related to all vehicles in the town (school buses, cars, firetrucks, etc…). Investigate and invite town mayor/councilors to your class when you present what you learn. – H

  • Learn about energy audits, what they include. Contact organization in your town that does them and find a way to encourage more people in your area to have an audit done. (Posters, letters to the editor, assembly for school) M/H
  • Hold debate between teams in classroom (or invite another class). Debate: fossil fuels vs. renewables; or what will save more energy: a recycling campaign, carpooling campaign, turn off lighting campaign. Prepare well in teams. Possibly invite experts into class to ask questions in preparation for debates. M/H

Math Class:

  • Bring in electric bills from home and analyze. Find out if your area can draw on renewable sources of energy. How would that change the bill? When are bills the highest? How to fix that? Are there any extra charges on the bills you don’t understand? M/H
  • Our electric footprint – each student evaluates current footprint and finds way to reduce amount of energy used. Work in small teams. Interview parents to find out home’s footprint. M/H
  • Count lightbulbs in each student’s house; graph how many are compact fluorescents, how many LEDs, and what energy they’d save by replacing all other bulbs. Make charts/bar graphs. E/M
  • Log all car trips made by student’s family in one week; graph purposes of trips. Figure out how many trips could have been combined and what the savings would have been in gallons of gas and money. Determine what trips could have been used less energy by walking or biking or using public transportation. M/H
  • Make a ‘draft detector’ and go around the school/home to determine where there are leaks around doors or windows. Determine best way to fill the leaks and have meeting with principal or parents to inspire changes. Maybe use thermal camera. M/H

Cooking Class:

  • Evaluate different ways of preparing food and their energy consumption. How could you save energy? M
  • Find out what foods take most energy to produce, market, prepare, and transport to the stores/homes. Make charts/film for display for school. Learn about shopping for local produce. M/H

Geography Class:

  • Where does our ‘stuff’ come from? Map food, clothing, toys to see how much energy was used to transport these things to us. Develop brochure/film suggesting what changes we can make in how we consume these things that will use less energy. Teams take different items and everyone reports in, making info sheet to share. M/H

Art Class:

  • Read a story, poem, news article about energy efficiency to class and have students illustrate to create a book or series of posters. E/M/H
  • Team project: How would you design a house to be naturally more energy efficient? Have teams work on different rooms or systems within the house. Create ‘doll house’ showing results. M/H
  • Energy collage… what uses energy and what kind of energy? Make class collage and display in front hall of school. E/M/H
  • Create art projects, bookmarks, with energy efficiency concepts illustrated, and laminate – for holiday gifts. E/M/H
  • Have class create a game that teaches people about ways to be more efficient with energy. M/H
  • Have a contest to design energy efficiency design to print on t-shirts and distribute/sell. Encourage teamwork. M/H
  • Have a field trip to a local printing business to learn about paper that is wasted, and turn that waste paper into art to be enjoyed by the entire community. M/H

Drama Class:

  • Write and act out a short play on how energy comes from the sun into other energy sources. M/H
  • Write a song (individually or as a class) or jingle about energy efficiency. Get a local radio station or Cable TV station to play it. M/H

Physical Education:

  • Explore use of energy in our bodies. Are there ways of conserving energy while doing the same activities? How can this be applied to other forms of energy? M/H

Foreign Language Classes:

  • Learn about energy efficiency in country of language being studied. Create illustrations/posters. M/H
  • Learn vocabulary needed to talk about energy efficiency in foreign language. Create mini-dictionary of energy words. M/H

Home Economics:

  • Visit recycling plant in area. Discover what sort of recycling will save energy and how that works. Present to another class. M/H
  • 4 R’s: Reduce, repair, reuse, recycle. How could this apply to you at home? How does this save energy? Charts, graphs, take pictures, etc. E/M/H

Science Class:

  • Do a home energy survey. What sort of energy is used to heat, cool, drive, etc. How could you save energy? Do a sort of ‘show and tell’ before class. E/M/H
  • Our electric footprint – each student evaluates current footprint and reports back to class what they’ve found out. Discuss ways to reduce amount of energy used. M/H
  • Describe a day without energy. Write a story, poem, song with results. E/M/H
  • Class differentiates between activities that conserve energy versus technologies that are energy efficient. Debate which, if either, is a better way to go. Do presentation at PTO meeting. M/H
  • Learn the definitions of conduction, convection, and radiation and perform a science experiment with different cups to compare how well they insulate against the cold. Once the experiment is complete, students will graph their results and draw conclusions from the experiment. M/H
  • Research the best way to insulate and create a new kind of thermos. M/H
  • Have class make a list of questions they have about how energy efficiency addresses climate change, and invite a city official to visit the class and speak to the questions. Invite parents. M/H
  • Make your school more energy efficient: Investigate everything from energy audits to alternative energy sources and behavior change. Class breaks into teams and interviews principal, nurse, janitors, teachers. Film interviews to share. As an extension, students might contribute their results to the Cool School Challenge. Research available films on topic and arrange for good film to be shown to school/parents. M/H
  • Do a project to learn about the 5 kinds of fuels that can run cars. Design posters that could be displayed at public library or local bank. E/M/H (
  • Have the class do a study on 3 kinds of light bulbs: incandescent, fluorescent and LED bulbs. Do a presentation for school staff and parents who are invited, perhaps 15 minutes presentation after a PTA meeting. MH
  • Design a solar car with recycled materials. Race them to see which models are the fastest and why.

Music/dance Class:

  • Write a song to popular melody or rap on saving energy. Record. Combine with dance. EMH

Elementary School:

  • Wasting energy: Poster contest in class (Wanted: energy wasters!) E
  • Draw pictures of a house and color in all the ways that the people who live in that house (or school) can save energy. Display as art show. E
  • Experiment with batteries and toys that need them. What happens when toy is left on for a long time? How does this relate to leaving lights on, etc. E