WIN-WIN: Gruening students save energy, earn pizza

Monday, November 13, 2017 - 20:27

It’s party time for one class of seventh-graders at Gruening Middle School.

Brad Kirr’s third-period class at the Eagle River middle school was the Mat-Su/Eagle River regional winner in Chugach Electric’s recent Power Pledge Challenge, an energy saving education program designed to educate kids about energy use. The class will receive a pizza party and a tour of the Matanuska Electric Eklutna Generation Station.

According to a Chugach press release, students completed an activity to learn how to calculate their own energy usage and learned ways to reduce usage.

Kirr said he heard about the program via an email sent out by the Anchorage School District’s Secondary Education department.

“I was like, ‘That sounds interesting,’” Kirr said on Monday, Nov. 6.

He and fellow science teacher Renee Jilka had their kids take part in the project, which included an online questionnaire and a pledge to conserve energy.

About a month later, Kirr got an email saying his class had been chosen as one of four regional winners.

More than 3,600 students from 131 classes at 27 elementary and middle schools across the state participated in the initiative, which began in 2012 with presentations to 700 students in the Anchorage area.

Chugach partners with a number of other groups and utilities on the project, including the Alaska Energy Authority, Alaska Electric Light & Power, Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, ENSTAR Natural Gas, Homer Electric, Matanuska Electric Association, Municipal Light and Power, and Renewable Energy Alaska Project.

“This year’s campaign covered the largest geographic area of the initiative to date with students competing for regional and statewide prizes,” read the release.

Johanna Tennant’s science class from Palmer Junior Middle School was chosen the statewide winner. In addition to a pizza party and power plant tour, Tennant’s class also won $1,200 worth of educational materials for the classroom.

“This is a good experience for our eighth grade physical science students,” Tennant said in the release. “It gets them thinking about their personal energy consumption and start connecting that to what their families are spending on electricity. It is also a great eye opener to energy cost differences across the state.”

Kirr agreed that he thought the message seemed to resonate with his students.

“I felt like most of them heard it,” he said.

Kirr said the students are excited about getting time off from school to visit the power plant. And they’re also charged up about the food.

“They were excited about the pizza party of course,” he said.

CORRECTION: Story has been updated to correct the spelling of Kirr’s last name and to reflect the correct operator of the Eklutna Generation Station.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at editor@alaskastar.com

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