RDI'S NEW STUDY, THE CONVERGENCE OF GAS AND POWER: Causes and Consequences, projects gas consumption in the United States will grow 2.4 percent per year, or a 26.8-percent increase from 1998 to...
School plays teach efficiency, creativity, and self-confidence.
Bumbling Melvin Markham is a hero. He just doesn't know it. As the central character in an innovative school play, Melvin learns that everyone can save energy and the environment.
Portland General Electric (PGE), of Portland, Ore., commissioned the production, You Ooze, You Lose, to teach elementary school students the importance of energy efficiency and sustainable living. "Teaching our customers, of all ages, about wise use of energy is a big part of PGE's mission," said CEO and President Peggy Fowler. "To effectively reach children, you can't just hand them a pamphlet. You have to be creative."
The play just finished its second year of rave reviews at grade school assemblies across the utility's service territory, and PGE has sold the program to several other Pacific Northwest utilities. Creative Information Transformation Education (CITE) of Portland produced the 45-minute event, shown to almost 60,000 students from kindergarten through fifth grade. The story follows the quest of Melvin, a comically clueless youngster who fantasizes about being a superhero.
When Melvin visits his hero, Bozotic Man, he hits the "Do Not Push!" button, which activates the ugly Wizard of Ooze, the ultimate waster of resources. The Wizard looks like a huge coffeepot covered with splotchy paint. He sprouts vacuum hoses from his sides and electric cables from his nose. With help from Dr. Pixel, a scientist, Melvin learns about saving electricity, water, and natural gas, and using renewable resources.
The youngsters help Melvin defeat the evil wizard with their new knowledge. They learn that you don't have to be a superhero to make a difference in the world, but that little things can add up to a bright future. The children depart the auditorium with energy efficiency information packets for their families and a stern warning: The Wizard vows to return if they waste resources.
While You Ooze, You Lose, was a clear success for educating younger children with hard facts, PGE and CITE staff decided that middle school students would learn more with a hands-on approach, producing their own shows. The process also sparked their creativity and ability to perform before an audience.
This spring, CITE assigned artists-in-residence, experienced actors, and directors to seventh and eighth-grade classes in five middle schools in the Portland metro area. Five more middle schools will participate next fall. Working closely with teachers, the artists coach 13- and 14-year-old students in making their own short skits on energy, safety, efficiency, and sustainability. Titles included The Little Turbine That Could, Energy Jeopardy, and a soap opera satire, All My Insulation.