A summer institute for a brighter competition

What do all good teachers have in common? The power to energize young minds. So when Canadian Geographic Education and Shell Canada brought ten of Canada’s best teachers to Ottawa this summer to talk about energy literacy, the mood was, well, electric.

The teachers came from across Canada for three days in mid-July to share resources, meet with a panel of energy experts, provide feedback on the previous year’s Classroom Energy Diet Challenge (CEDC) and to explore the Ottawa region—including a behind-the-scenes tour of the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology.

The annual meeting is called the summer institute and “it’s a phenomenal opportunity to connect with educators from across Canada,” says Curtis Wagner, an attendee from St. Luke School in Saskatoon, Sask.

The CEDC, a partnership between Canadian Geographic Education and Shell Canada, is a classroom competition to raise students’ energy awareness and help improve energy literacy in Canada. The CEDC’s 25 challenges encourage teachers to be creative and go beyond the basic curriculum to improve students’ energy literacy. This year, there were 1,275 classrooms from every province and territory competing to save energy and raise awareness in their communities. 

Robert More, an attendee of the workshop and a teacher at ACCESS in Montreal, Que. says, “For the students, there’s a lot of opportunity for hands on learning in the CEDC that they wouldn’t normally do in a classroom. Things like composting with worms while learning about plants.”

Apart from exploring the collection at the Museum and a guided tour of the Mackenzie King estate in the rolling Gatineau Hills just north of Ottawa, the teachers were treated to a power panel of Canadian energy experts. Made up of Jacob Irving, Janet Annesley from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Tom Levy from Canadian Wind Energy Association and Jon Stewart from the Canadian Nuclear Association, the panel was led by Canadian Geographic Editor Aaron Kylie. The discussion ranged from the importance of energy literacy to how leaders in the energy industry need to improve communication between them and Canadians. 

The CEDC is just about to start its fourth year, and changes are being made to ensure students learn about current energy issues and that the activities link to relevant curricula across Canada.

As for any teacher still on the fence, Kathryn Pezzaniti from Father Turcotte Elementary School in Fort McMurray, Alta. says, “The CEDC offers fun activities that are curriculum aligned, and I knew my kids would get into it. But I didn’t expect it to be quite as enriching of a learning experience as it was.” 


Photo: The CEDC Summer Insititute on their field trip to the Mackenzie King estate.