A teacher’s strike. A pandemic. Extended school closures. Teaching and learning from a distance. Despite more than a few obstacles, the 2020 Classroom Energy Diet Challenge (CEDC) has ended on a high note! Teachers and students persevered through these difficulties and worked incredibly hard to learn about energy, both in the classroom and at home. 

The CEDC allows students to learn about energy use and conservation in a meaningful and memorable way. Even with all of the challenges faced in 2020, teachers and students took on the Challenge with energy and enthusiasm. 

Melissa Hallett is a grade 4 teacher in Nova Scotia who participated in this year’s Classroom Energy Diet Challenge. Photo: Melissa Hallett

“[The CEDC] acted as a catalyst to empower students to become vocal with their opinions relating to conservation,” says Melissa Hallett, Grade 4 teacher from Nova Scotia. “They became advocates of conservation within the school and their own homes as they highlighted issues they found.”

Many teachers also found the CEDC easy to integrate into their classrooms. “I am just so grateful for this challenge on so many levels,” says Julianne Roth, teacher at Crestview Public School in Kitchener, Ont., who has used the Challenge to connect students to issues such as climate change. “It has been a fabulous way to bring focus and meaning to the Grade 5/6 curriculum.”

Teachers were able to incorporate the challenges into their classrooms in fun and creative ways. Hallett’s students created a recipe that featured local ingredients for the What’s For Lunch challenge. Her class was able to visit a local farmer’s market and taste-tested local produce. “Students were excited about how fresh the vegetables were and expanded their palate[s] by trying radishes and sprouts,” says Hallett.

When schools were closed due to COVID-19, teachers found innovative ways to bring the CEDC into the home and include families in the learning! Teacher Nancy Gillis

 

An Energy Diet poster in Julianne Roth’s classroom. Photo: Julianne Roth

was able to engage families in the challenge through Earth Hour. “I connected with families and asked that everyone contribute to our remaining One Hour No Power challenge by participating in Earth Hour or other power-free activities,” says Gillis. Students and their families were able to participate in activities like bike riding and board games—all without using power! 

Examples of Nancy Gillis’ students’ work in the Classroom Energy Diet Challenge. Photo: Nancy Gillis

The closure of schools caused a lot of challenges for teachers, but classrooms were dedicated to finishing the CEDC. “Now that we’re all scattered due to COVID-19, the continuity of this challenge has anchored us as a class,” says Roth. Some teachers found that the Challenge provided a perfect opportunity to connect with students and provide some open-ended options for them to continue with their learning at home.

With all that is happening in the world today, it is a good time to focus on the positive things that have come out of the Challenge. Over the course of the 2020 CEDC, classrooms across Canada managed to save 151,559 litres of water, prevent 17,170 bottles from entering the landfill, and went 2,342 hours without power. What students and teachers have accomplished since February 3 is truly amazing. Congratulations to all participants in the 2020 Classroom Energy Diet Challenge, and thank you for a memorable year!