In the course of presenting energy efficiency workshops to homeowners, TVA noticed that many attendees brought their young children with them. TVA recognized both a need to entertain the kids so their parents could focus on the workshop and a valuable opportunity to reach an audience that could impact energy behavior in the home. TVA asked Milepost to develop a tool that local power companies could use during energy efficiency workshops to teach children about home energy use, to enlist them in the effort to reduce energy waste now and to educate them as future energy customers.
With a former elementary school teacher and early childhood education professional development coach on our consulting team, we created an activity book around a colorful cast of monsters we named Watt, Spark, Bolt, Newton, Zap and Breaker. Because our audience would include readers as well as pre-readers, we chose to depend largely on illustrations to communicate TVA’s message.
In the 16-page booklet, children follow the monsters through various scenarios, learning what uses energy in a home and how simple actions can reduce energy waste. Thirteen activities in the book include a coloring page to identify energy-using household items, a secret message to decode, a maze, a crossword puzzle and others. Each page includes a lesson, such as why windows and doors should be kept closed when the heater or AC is running, where energy comes from and how some things should be unplugged when not in use.
View the booklet here.
TVA and its local power companies (LPCs) use the activity books to help teach their youngest energy consumers about how power is produced and ways they can help their families save energy and money on their utility bills. More than 9,000 activity books have been distributed to children who accompany their parents to home energy workshops or participate in TVA’s STEM initiatives at local schools. In addition, LPCs hand them out when they’re visiting schools doing safety demonstrations, and others use them for Earth Day celebrations and other community events.
The booklet has received rave reviews from LPCs and kids alike, who think the monsters are cute and fun. In response to the popularity of the energy monsters, Milepost is currently helping design a full energy workshop just for kids that can be hosted in the community and in schools. The monsters will receive expanded stage time in the workshop with a PowerPoint, storylines and perhaps even 3-D plush characters.
The booklet was recognized with a 2019 Utility Communicators International Award (Gold, Special Publications category).