Kids4Energy - Energy Efficiency Information, Education and Training Programmes targeted at Children and Development of Best Practice - Europe
The "Kids4Energy" project is a project with 10 partners from 9 different countries in Europe within the EU programme SAVE II. The full name of the project is "Evaluation of Information, Education and Training (EE IET) Programmes Targeted at Children and Development of Best Practice."
The overall development objective of the project is improved EE through improved quality and cost effectiveness of EE IET programmes/projects. The results were; 1) evaluation of the impact and process of EE IET programmes/projects targeted at children in Europe, 2) collection of gained experience in Europe as well as globally and determination of best practice, 3) establishing a solid network of developers, implementers and supporters of EE IET programmes and 4) disseminate the Best Practice Guide widely among these and others.
The Best Practice Guide and the network was used to develop a set of role playing cards to illustrate one approach to communicating the EE message in a "hands on" manner to increase children's interest and knowledge of the subject.
Examples of EE IET programmes/projects from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, and United-Kingdom, their strengths and weaknesses are described in the Best Practice Guide for inspiration. They represent a broad spectrum in terms of target group, topic, approach, organisational set-up, and financing. Based on these evaluations a Best Practice Guide was developed, which aims to inspire and guide key actors working with this type of programmes and to help increase the quality and impact of future programmes.
The main project outcomes (products/deliverable) were:
- A Best Practice Guide for IET programmes for children
- A set of role playing cards, based on life-styles, energy and environment
- A network of developers, implementers and supporters
The success elements described in the Best Practice Guide are as follow:
- Involvement - Is a formal consent to participate or let the EE activity happen. An example could be that the school principal formally signs an agreement to let the teachers teach EE at the school. It is a passive form of participation. Evidence also suggests that level of involvement correlates with learning. Involvement and engagement needs to be operationalised further.
- Engagement - Actively participating in the EE activity for example a teacher using EE material provided by an EE agency. Preliminary discussions suggest that engagement, as concept brings in a physical element to involvement.
- Humour/fun/playing - Is a useful mechanism for shifting the pressure of performance to engagement and better retention of information (combining heart and mind). Humour has proven to influence attitude and behaviour through various routes, but the majority of the research involves adults.
- Understanding the school system/working with teachers - Who do you talk to first in the school system. What are the agendas? What are the needs of the school environment?
- Make resources available but not readymade. The Guide describes the fine line of making teaching materials available enough for teachers to be interested, but leaving enough autonomy for the teachers to take ownership and adapt to own teaching style.
- Being genuine. The Guide stresses that genuine involvement for the goals, objectives and methods to a great extent explain success. It is advised to carefully pick out gatekeepers and key contact points when planning a project.
- Understanding message complexity - Understanding their needs and knowledge level is vital to be able to tailor the programme effectively. Involving pedagogical personnel is absolutely vital when preparing materials for the target group. Teachers understand how much complexity pupils comprehend.
- Whe WIIFM-factor (what's in it for me?). This effect needs to be on the agenda of the project planner. Without a realistic view on the target group's honest interest in the subject a gap between expected and real outcome is likely to appear.
- Sustainability. Evidence shows that projects are costly and require great efforts for relatively little outcome in the beginning, but tend to be less and less costly over time when actors are used to the actors, the message, the routines and so fourth. Savings per invested EUR is often increased significantly every year, especially from year one to year two.
- Working with municipalities. The guide proposes some steps and suggestions for how to gain support and interest from the municipalities.
- Flexibility - joint efforts. The guide also explains how partnerships and coalitions can make 1+1 add up to more than 2.
- How to avoid pitfalls. Evidence from a great body of projects highlight the types of pitfalls to avoid in future projects.
Using the Best Practice Guide and the established network a set of role playing cards was developed to illustrate one approach to communicating the EE message. The cards can be used in different ways depending on the preference of the teachers involved and the age group of the targeted children and are distributed widely in all the partner countries. The project also aimed to strengthen and expand the existing network of organizations working with EE and children. Part of the project is an Internet site on useful links, sources of financing and inspirational ideas.
800 hard copies of the Best Practice Guide and 7.000 sets of the role playing cards were printed and distributed to the partners for distribution to the established network of developers, implementers and supporters.