Students Work to Decrease South River's Energy Output
A pair of STEM students are trying to raise awareness about simple ways students and teachers can be more efficient with their energy use.
“Senioritis” may be a term used to describe a senior high school student’s lack of motivation, but for South River High seniors like Jillian Buck and Chad Moeslein, who are in a magnet program for the sciences and math, the final year of high school school isn’t about relaxing. It’s about getting things done.
Earlier this week, Patch featured a team of students in STEM—Science Technology Engineering Mathematics—that developed a new music app for Android smart phones. While their classmates spent hours coding and researching a new technology, Buck, of Crofton, and Moeslein, of Davidsonville, wanted to decrease South River High's energy output.
In its third year at South River, STEM has an overall focus on science, technology, enginnering and math and students pursue a concentrated curriculum of their preference.
As the student board member of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education, Buck has unique insight into the school system that she can apply to her STEM "capstone" year-long project. Along with Moeslein's engineering background, the two said they make an ideal fit for getting significant things done at the school.
“We started the energy reduction program,” Buck said. “We wanted to teach teachers and students ways to conserve energy.”
After noticing empty classrooms with all its lights on and other energy sources being left "on" overnight, the two worked to point out simple ways the South River student body could decrease their energy output.
"After seeing the BGE bills [for county schools], we were like 'Whoa, this is a lot of money,'" Moeslein said.
With lots of research, cooperating with the county school's Operations Division and listing practical steps for energy reduction, Buck and Moeslein sent out weekly emails starting in January to faculty and staff at South River High.
Buck split the messages to the school's community into several phases, with each week possessing a specific, targeted goal.
"We are asking that you would please turn off your lights and computers when you leave the room ... especially when you go home for the evening or weekend," Buck wrote in an email to South River faculty and teachers.
In the next phase, Moeslein and Buck sought to increase awareness about machines that go unused, and asked the community to unplug such devices. The pair even advocated for the school to use Blackle.com, a customized search engine that uses a black main screen instead of white.
"It uses less energy because of the black screen," Buck said.
The goal of the students' STEM capstone project is to potentially form a campaign that can be adopted by all Anne Arundel County schools, said the pair. However, there are always energy uses that simply can't be turned off.
Stadium lights and parking lot lights expend a lot of electricity, but they also provide safety for the area, one of the main reasons they can't be shut off during certain times of the day and night, Moeslein said.
Still, the two seniors are excited to see how their effort can change the current energy paradigm at their school.
“We’ve had lots of positive responses,” Buck said. But the big key is seeing lifestyle changes transfer from school to households, and that’s what the two are most excited about.
“When people said, ‘OK, we’re going to do this at our house now,’ that’s our hope. That it would become a habit,” Moeslein said.