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It takes energy to save energy

Not using that light, that computer, that Nintendo? Turn them off! That's the message these fourth- and fifth-graders are trying to get out.

Published January 31, 2007


NEW PORT RICHEY - They might be young, but already they're thinking ahead. The future and issues such as global warming are on the minds of about 25 kids who are involved in the newly formed Eco Eagles Club at Mittye P. Locke Elementary.

Since October the Eco Eagles have been working after school to save electricity and recycle record amounts of household batteries. That has them doing research and writing and singing a song called The Battery Bunch (to the tune of The Brady Bunch) for commercials to be shown on the school's morning news show. They also are contacting folks in the local media to spread the word and perhaps enlist others in their cause.

These fourth- and fifth-graders have asked teachers to help cut down on electricity by sharing classroom microwaves and minifridges and turning off most of the overhead lights - even if they are the fluorescent energy-saving kind - when students are out of the classrooms during teacher planning periods. They've distributed containers in each classroom to step up efforts on the school's battery recovery program. They are also asking students to put their energy saving tips into use at home.

"Turn it Off and Turn On a New World," is the global warming fighting slogan. Turn off the computer when you are done and unplug that Nintendo DS when it is done recharging, said 10-year-old publicity person Autumn Bardisa. "Every time you turn on a light, 2 pounds of coal is burned" she said, citing one of the facts dug up by the club's research members. "And that adds to global warming."

The Eco Eagles have been encouraged in large part by something called Jiminy Cricket's Environmentality Challenge - an educational environmental program that has enrolled about 1-million students in California, Florida, Hong Kong and the Cayman Islands since it started in 1994.

"The little things we do impact everyone in the world," said Autumn. "Even just unplugging a nightlight when it's daytime can help."

The club is just a few months up and running, and already the battery recycling numbers are up from last year, said math and resource science teacher Amy Flandreau, who brought the challenge to her school and serves as a sponsor for the Eco Eagles, along with gifted teachers Amy Turino and Susan Foster.

The idea is to keep the program going and reach a broader audience, said Foster. "We hope the fifth-graders will bring it to the middle school next year, and the fourth-graders will step up to lead the group," she said. "The ultimate goal is to get it into the community - have parents bring it into workplaces."

And maybe even win a prize through the Disney program for their efforts.

Still, 11-year-old publicity person Julide Ive said: "If we don't win this thing it doesn't matter because the world, or at least maybe Pasco, will be affected by what we do. Even though we're not in history books, we know we're doing something good."

[Last modified January 30, 2007, 23:30:41]

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