On May 20, a group of Grade 7 students initiated ‘Operation Blackout,’ a one-day project, where both Primary and Secondary students and teachers spent an entire school day without using electricity and technology. (Business offices, the network server room and reception areas were exempt from the project.)
The students’ goals were the following:
We designed this project for two main reasons. One of them is to save electricity and see the amount of electricity we consume for the hours we are at school and the amount we can save by doing simple tasks. Our second intention for creating this project is to raise awareness of how much we are dependent on electricity and technology. Not having simple devices like our phones or computers will hopefully help us realize that we are missing out on opportunities and spending way too much time staring at our screens. Not having lights when first walking into a room will help us understand how much our daily lives depend on electricity and technology. Sometimes we take those simple things for granted, not appreciating the simple things in life enough.
During the day without technology, teachers designed lesson plans based on the lack of electricity or technology. Instead, lessons included white boards, group activities, reading, and students creating their own science experiments.
The results of the day included a 50% reduction in electricity energy consumption and a marked increase in awareness of technology usage. Based on informal feedback, we discovered that some people were pleasantly surprised by how much they enjoyed the day without technology, while others were disappointed to spend a day without technology or electricity. One teacher even said her eyes felt a huge relief by not looking at the computer screen and she felt more relaxed by not being connected. Students talked about the struggle to resist using their phones. From the administration, the notion of handwriting as a basic skill was something that has been picked up to consider for a curriculum plan.
Overall, students met both goals. We reduced our energy consumption and we had rich conversations about technology and electricity usage. We are already making plans to expand and refine this project for next year as one more way that the PSI community focuses on both conservation and innovative teaching and learning.
by Jacob Ortwein