Inspirations - Lowestoft Energy Challenge

Lowestoft Energy Challenge image

A Teachers TV video exploring the quest by three schools in the Lowestoft area to make their school environment more energy efficient.


The aims of the resource:
The aim of the resource is to highlight ways in which schools can research sustainable and efficient use of energy around their establishments and then present their findings in a way that can lead to real energy efficient programmes being utilised with the help of National Initiatives.



Key findings or focus:
The video focuses on three establishments in Lowestoft that took part in the Energy Challenge sponsored by NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) and the Enterprise Agency Make your Mark. (The former encourage building capacity for innovation and help young people to do the same, the latter promote ideas and innovations.)


Each educational establishment was invited to research their own energy use and develop  ideas about how to become more efficient. The rewards were up to £25,000 in grants to assist in the actual implementation of some of the ideas.


Each establishment then pitched their ideas to a panel of NESTA experts and reps from Make your Mark.


The video follows:

 The Denes High school who:

  • Analysed their own energy usage and wastage with assistance from the charity Global Action Plan
  • Decided to bid for a wind turbine to generate renewable energy


The Poplars Primary School who:

  • Explored ways renewable energy could be used in the future
  • With the help of the Green Energy Machine, looked at alternative ideas of conservation using solar panels and wind turbines


Lowestoft College who, with assistance from Global Action Plan in a workshop, decided to:

  • Create a waste material sculpture tree (12ft ) to alert the community to waste
  • Convert cars to bio fuel in the car workshop
  • Compact waste sawdust and shavings from the woodwork shop to make briquettes for fires and BBQ's


The results were:

  • Denes High School awarded £25,000 for a wind turbine and a conservation poster campaign
  • Poplars Primary School awarded £2000 for energy generation options and monitoring of wastage and usage
  • Lowestoft College awarded £16000 to create waste sculpture, convert cars to bio fuel and compress wood shavings.


As a conclusion, NESTA were impressed by the transformation of the young people and children into scientists, engineers and businessmen with sustainability at the heart of their inspiration. They hope to make the project nationwide in consultation with their Education for Innovation Policy.


Possibly the most useful parts of the video are the points where children and students are presenting their ideas to the panel of judges. It is in these sections where passion for sustainability can be seen in all the age groups, as well as an ability to communicate ideas to a given audience.


The quality, authority and credibility of the resource in relation to ITE:
The resource has a credibility that is backed by the two organisations mentioned, and the initiatives are very much in line with the government's sustainable schools initiative and the ECO schools movement.


Sustainability needs to be imbedded into ITE to meet the demands of these initiatives.


If schools are working toward the meeting of some of the criteria involved in these initiatives (as seen in the video), ITE establishments have a responsibility to include reference to sustainability issues in order that students are prepared for the challenges they may face in the classroom.


The implication for ITE tutors/mentors:
Tutors could best use this resource in connection with cross curricular teaching and specific subject based courses like science, design and technology, art and design and geography.


The video however only briefly explores a process of exploring energy efficiency in schools and ways in which real outcomes can be achieved; greater research would be needed to appreciate the range of ways in which this can be achieved.


The relevance to ITE students:
The importance of sustainability and the challenges of reducing carbon footprints begin in schools with appropriate investigation and enquiry. The initiatives highlight whole school approaches that include the local community.


Prospective teachers could use the resource to begin to look for ideas to stimulate learning about sustainability within the present curriculum and opportunities for any future curriculum. In the short term, trainees should begin to see how children and students can work successfully together when considering sustainability issues; it is a pity the video doesn't delve too deeply into the case studies.


Reviewed by:

Terry Whyte