Science center internship helps teens share energy efficiency message

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Science center internship helps teens share energy efficiency message

July 26, 2017 - 00:33
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  Matthew Goncher, a senior at Marian Catholic High
  School, explains the difference in energy usage
  between CFL and LED bulbs to 9-year-old Dominic
  Cortes of Flossmoor. Goncher helped create the
  energy conservation exhibit at the Homewood
  Science Center.
(Photos by Marilyn Thomas/
  H-F Chronicle)
 
Do you realize you’re adding to your electric bill by leaving chargers, devices and appliances plugged in while not in use?
 
Your DVD/DVR player could be costing you as much as $47 each year; a plasma TV between $8 and $16; and a printer $10 in additional electricity.
 
That was one of the lessons presented by 10 high school students interning at the Homewood Science Center courtesy of Schneider Electric.
 
Their information on energy efficiency was shared at the center’s program “Think Globally, Act Locally: You Can Make a Sustainable Difference” on July 22.
 
  Homewood Science Center
  summer interns, from left,
  Katherine O'Shea of Marian
  Catholic High School,
  Victoria D'Astici of
  Homewood-Flossmoor
  High School and Tava
  Oosterbaan of Marian
  Catholic, explain how
  turning off electrical devices
  can reduce energy costs.

 
The idea behind the program was to get students into a teachable moment, said Jeff McClain, director of operations at Schneider’s Homewood office.
 
As part of the company’s community outreach, he worked with center Executive Director Edie Dobrez to create the internship that involved Katherine “Katie” O’Shea, Victoria D’Astici, Tava Oosterbaan, Matthew Goncher, Tabitha Willis, Sheldon Branch, Stefano Pannone, Tim McGrath, Antonio Archilla and Udo Anidobu ― students at Homewood-Flossmoor, Marian Catholic and Mt. Carmel High Schools.
 
Over four sessions meeting with McClain and his team, the students selected topics that would inform residents “about the importance of energy efficiency and things we can do in the home that help in the home and the larger macro environment,” McClain said.  
 
Through student-created displays, guests were able to see how much energy their devices were using. After flipping the switch that shut off the device, the number registered to zero.
 
During her presentation, Katie suggested using power strips that allow for multiple device plug-ins, and is the easiest way to shut them off. She and her teammates were anxious to get that message out because by needlessly running devices “not only are you using (energy) but the house next to you and your neighborhood and your town and your state. These are generators running!” she said.
 
Another exhibit looked at light bulb use. America is moving away from the incandescent light bulb to energy efficient bulbs. First out was the CFL that users recognize as the curly cue bulb. But the exhibit showed that moving to LED bulbs reduces costs, and the bulb emits more light.
 
The interns used their math skills to calculate savings: 1,000 homes saving 10 percent electricity use would reduce 1 megawatt of electricity per year. At 1.22 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilowatt, this would reduce CO2 emissions by 592 metric tons per year.

CO2 is considered by scientists to be a major contributor to global climate change.
 
“That’s extremely substantial,” Tava said.
 
Kristy Reardon of Homewood, who stopped by the science center was “very impressed. I learned a lot. These kids are the future," and will be the ones to inspire change, she said.