In science class, kids are taught about the many systems of their bodies, for example: the nervous system, digestive system, and the skeletal system. It is important for them to understand how their bodies work so they can take good care of themselves.
Likewise, it is also important for students to understand how the critical systems of their communities work. Even after decades of environmental activism in this country, we still struggle to reliably deliver clean and safe water, food and energy to our nation’s children. It’s time to take a good hard look at the sustainability and success of the energy, water and food systems that serve our communities. Who better to bring this issue into focus than the children who will inherit these systems?
When students comprehend how the energy, food and water systems work, they are more likely to play a role in taking care of those vital functions of every community. You can start by asking students to investigate some of the following questions:
- Is the quality of your water good?
- Are the pipes that your water flows through old and leaky, or are they well-maintained?
- Does your community rely on a water source that is far away?
- What happens in your community if there is a drought?
- Is it easy or hard to get food that is grown close to your home?
- Are organic fruits and vegetables easy to get and affordable?
- How does your grocery store ensure they buy safe foods, and if there is a food recall, how do they let shoppers know about it?
- If a large amount of the food in your community is shipped in on trucks, and the price of fuel for those trucks goes up substantially, you can expect that the cost of food also goes up. How would an increase in the price of food – based on higher fuel prices – affect your community?
- How many megawatts of electricity does your school, home or city use each month?
- Where does the energy for your community come from, and how much of it is from renewable sources (solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, etc.)?
- How far away are the power plants that create the electricity your community uses?
- Does your community have energy conservation and energy efficiency programs in place?