Energy and What Kids Like

Winter 1999

Do children have to be plugged into have fun?

Among her other duties, Linda Wigingttm, an energy consultant from Pittsburgh, teaches grade school students about energy. Linda wanted them to know that they don’t have to use a lot of electricity or fuel to be happy. To prove her point, she created a game in which each child lists their five favorite activities. Then, they put those activities in order of importance to them.

For example, a young lady named Alice may choose; play with my dog, play Nintendo, take walks with my Dad, jump rope, and visit Grandma.

When she puts them in order of importance it might look like this:

  • Play with my dog
  • Take walks with my Dad
  • Jump rope
  • Visit Grandma
  • Play Nintendo

In this example, Alice likes to be with her dog a lot, and Nintendo is toward the bottom of her favorite activities.

Linda Wigington would then ask the kids to look at their list to discover if their favorite activities required the direct use of fuel or electricity. Most did not

At ICE, we thought we would try this in some typical, public elementary school classes. Blank cards were distributed to 258 children in grades three, four and five. The same instructions were given. The teacher collected the cards, and we analyzed them. Two thirds of the total top two activities did not require the use of electricity or fuel. Only one third did. Each category was split about equally between girls and boys.

Some interesting details were apparent. Only ten of the 258 kids listed watching television in their top two favorites. Sports were favored in one fifth of the boys’ responses. Only one child put church in her top two favorite activities.

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