Carbon Consumption Comparison Project Opportunity (aka C3PO) or “How Clean Is Your Shirt?”
Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI), in collaboration with Central Maine Power Company (CMP) and Tilson, Inc. have developed the PowerHouse Student Online Learning Environment (SOLE), a student-focused energy education program to affect household attitudes and behaviors toward energy consumption patterns. PowerHouse is an interactive learning environment that connects 7th and 8th grade students to their household electricity use data and provides valuable information about energy usage and energy management. The project leverages Maine’s investment in providing a laptop computer for every 7th and 8th-grade student , high-speed Internet access to every classroom, and the installation of smart meters at 95% of residential utility customers in the state. Initially, the demonstration’s activities will affect 1,000 students and their households. In addition to leveraging individual household data to enable students and their families to better manage electricity use, PowerHouse also engages middle-school students in the disciplines of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) that will support our future workforce.
Proposed “Killer Idea/App”:
Utilizing datasets from both the Independent System Operator-New England (www.iso-ne.com) and Midcontinent Independent System Operator (www.misoenergy.org) websites, we see a very interesting potential PowerHouse feature that would enable students to look at the real-time energy generation mix (% natural gas, oil, coal, nuclear and renewables) to understand peaking power and the carbon footprint and cost implications of time-of-day electricity usage. From a pedagogy perspective, this is a very powerful way to help students understand that a series of individual household decisions can have significant impacts on the need for increased generating capacity and the relative carbon and economic costs of natural gas, nuclear and renewables, as compared to coal and oil.
This app is important because it is otherwise difficult to engage young learners with massive concepts like climate adaptation. They rightfully wonder how their individual actions have any impact on giant global trends. By helping them to understand both the carbon (what is the fuel mix for energy production?) and cost (peak-usage pricing) implications of when they use energy, they will gain awareness that their individual household decisions can have an impact on larger climate issues.