Ted Harrison Students Design a Brighter Use of Energy

Jun. 06, 2017

​What happens when both teachers and students let go and engage in design thinking? Dr. Garg, an alumni of Design the Shift and a Grade 9 Science teacher at Ted Harrison School, decided to find out by asking, “How can we humanize electricity?” He started by designing tasks that employed the five different methods (ask, watch, try, forecast and borrow) utilized by the design process to build student empathy with the topic of electricity. After which, the students were asked how their view of electricity had changed. Students responded by saying:

 “I am now aware of how impactful our consumption is.”
 “We are dependent on energy, not electricity.”
“Noticed that we are a key part of the electricity chain.”
 “Many of our addictions are fueled by electricity.”
 “Energy is not effectively converted.”

With the students having experienced the design thinking process, Dr. Garg flipped the table and asked the students to use the process to create energy initiatives that would change how others in their community would perceive electricity. To assist the process, Dr. Garg developed a few field studies to Inglewood, Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump Park and Pincher Creek to help students better understand community perspectives and enhance their evolving relationship with electricity. In the end, initiatives were created that involved scavenger hunts that promoted Grade 5 students to consider electricity free alternatives to meet their energy needs, a “Lights Off, Blinds Up, Save Electricity” Grade 9 pod program, promotion of exercising without the using electricity, “Use Physical Energy, Not Electrical Energy” to promote Grade 5 students to play video games less and play outside more, the development of solar ovens to alleviate microwave lines during lunch and many more innovative and insightful initiatives.

The final result ended in students better understanding how intertwined our collective Alberta story is--and has historically been--to the harnessing of energy.