High school students partner with VU students to promote energy conservation on Commons campus
Each year, the different houses of The Commons compete for the “Commons Cup,” which is awarded at the end of the academic year to the House with the most points. This year, the energy conservation component of the competition has been given a twist with the help of Metro Nashville high school students Emily Alsentzer and Catherine Caffey.
The two developed a system that provides an incentive for Vanderbilt students to conserve electricity by awarding their efforts with points towards the Commons Cup. Each month, points are awarded to each House on a sliding scale and added to the total points accumulated in the other four sections of the Cup: intramurals, academics, community service, and House involvement.
Both Alsentzer and Caffey attend the School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt (SSMV), a four-year interdisciplinary science program for high-school students housed within Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Faculty member Jonathan Creamer supervised Alsentzer and Caffey on the project, which will be submitted to the Siemens Foundation’s “We Can Change the World” Challenge in the hopes that this competition or partnership concept for energy conservation can be incorporated into university campuses nationwide. Additionally, Alsentzer and Caffey will be eligible to win a $50,000 college scholarship, a trip to the UN to present their findings, and a $5,000 grant for SSMV.
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This partnership between the Dean of the Commons’ office and the SSMV students was supplemented by the assistance of Vanderbilt’s Sustainability and Environmental Management Office (SEMO) and Plant Operations department as well as Ben Kahn, the vice president for energy of Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Responsibility (SPEAR). SPEAR had several years experience managing energy conservation competitions between the Commons Houses and mentored the SSMV students throughout the project.
The School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt is supported in part by a National Institutes of Health NCRR Science Education Partnership Award, by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and by the Nashville Alliance for Public Education.