With open eyes through the world

The project week from October 18-21 of the first two classes of the Swiss high school of Institut Montana was all about energy - a topic that probably couldn't be more prevailing. What is energy? What are the sources of energy? How is energy produced, stored, and distributed? What are energy efficient and inefficient devices? Where will we get energy in the future? How can we save energy and other resources?

24 November 2022

By means of workshops and guided tours organized by Linie-e: Energie Zukunft Schweiz, the students immersed themselves in the world of energy and resources and explored a variety of questions. The exciting experiments that they were able to carry out during the Linie-e workshops opened the eyes of the students: "I'm going to tell my family how I built a small solar airplane! If you can power such a small airplane with such a small solar cell, I'm sure you can do much more with more solar cells!" wrote one student in this week's reflection, while another one declared, "I'm so proud that I was able to build a small “generatörli” with a copper coil!" Another student writes: "I didn't know before that you can boil water with solar panels or that you can do more with solar energy than just generate a little electricity." Thus it becomes clear how necessary and indispensable it is for educational institutions to make the next generation aware of the possibilities for a more resource-friendly, sustainable life.

The students were surprised how much energy we waste in everyday life on unimportant activities, such as taking the elevator for a minute or watching Netflix on our cell phones. They were impressed by how easy it is to save energy by following a few simple rules. The reflection shows how the students would like to be more energy-conscious from now on: "From now on, I will always turn off the lights, only take a short shower and watch as little Netflix as possible." "I've made a mental note: Don't blow dry your hair, let it air dry, and unplug the cord when you're not using the appliance!" We could make any of these resolutions.

In addition to the very informative tour of the Menzingen wood heating plant, the students particularly enjoyed the tour of the drinking water supply in the canton of Zug. Here they not only learned a lot about the precious commodity water, where it comes from, and what it takes to make it bubble out of our taps clean and drinkable but also enjoyed getting rid of a lot of their own energy by running down the Lorzentobel and back up again. If only their energy could have been captured and stored!

At least we were able to capture some of their impressions thanks to the written reflection: "I've never drunk water directly from a spring before - and there were cool caves here with freshly cleaned water from the rocks, which was awesome!" "I will tell my family and friends how important it is to conserve water and how good spring water tastes." "I never even thought about where the water comes from. It's very exciting to know where the water you drink comes from." Educationally clever analogies with different buckets were used to illustrate the ways in which water is consumed in a very impressive way. Experiencing spring water coming out of a sintered hole was the icing on the cake.

It is a special privilege to live in Switzerland, where there are organizations like Linie-e, which develop age-appropriate concepts so that important topics and realities of our world can be brought closer to the new generation. It is a privilege to have local providers such as WWZ, who actively support this project and open their doors to give the public insight, answering the questions of young people with a lot of patience and thus combating their often frightening carelessness and cluelessness. In this way, knowledge transfer becomes learning, which truly opens the eyes of the students.

Ana Verhar, teacher at our Swiss High School

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