Parents usually direct efforts for home energy conservation and food sustainability — in California, however, a young group of Girl Scouts are leading the charge. Girls Learning Environment and Energy, a new partnership between Stanford University and the Girl Scouts of Northern California, is teaching scouts about ways to eat well and save energy.
The GLEE program, which is developed by Stanford and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, provides two five-week curricula to Girl Scout troops. The Home Energy program teaches scouts about the things they can do to reduce electricity use in the home. The Food Choices course helps kids how the food they eat impacts the environment, and teaches them to make more sustainable choices.
Each program uses kid-friendly activities to educate Girl Scouts about complex topics relating to energy conservation and sustainability. Troop leaders use games to keep kids engaged, while logs and tactile activities help young children visualize their progress. Role playing is a key component of each program; it teaches kids how to talk to parents and other adults.
GLEE program developers design each curriculum to help kids instigate environmentally friendly changes at home. Steps are simple and concrete, so Girl Scouts can relay the information to their parents and families with ease.
In a study of 30 scouts participating in the GLEE program, researchers found that the Home Energy program had the most dramatic impact. Immediately after the program’s conclusion and seventh months later, the girls and their families reported increased energy savings. In contrast, while the Food Choices program showed improved behaviors immediately after conclusion, the effects disappeared seven months later. The study demonstrates that energy conservation education in children can have far-reaching benefits for the environment and cost-cutting benefits for families.
With the encouraging results of the GLEE study, Stanford program designers are encouraged to continue their efforts in energy conservation and sustainability. Follow the lead of GLEE and the Girl Scouts by learn about your personal environmental footprint and finding ways to conserve resources at home.