Students measure heat loss in different types of insulating materials in the Button Up workshop.

Students measure heat loss in different types of insulating materials in the Button Up workshop.

The Vermont Energy Education Program (VEEP) has recently updated its Button Up in-class workshop, pills giving middle and high school students a hands-on way to learn about thermal energy by exploring the effects of home weatherization.

The workshop is available for all schools in Vermont. VEEP offers a free workshop to every class in Vermont, with fees for additional workshops. If your school serves students who live in towns served by Vermont Gas (Franklin, Chittenden, and Addison counties), VEEP educators can bring the Button Up workshop to your classroom at no cost, as well as offering an additional free workshop.

In the 90-minute Button Up workshop, students are asked to consider how they can use less energy to heat their home while still keeping it at a comfortable temperature. They explore different insulation and air-sealing materials as well as data from model houses. High school students even take on a home heating challenge where they play the role of new homeowners, researching and “purchasing” weatherization improvements.

“I love that there is a real-life application to the core idea of thermal energy,” said Jess Angell, VEEP director of curriculum and education. “I also love that it is an application that is meaningful to the current energy and climate issues in Vermont with an emphasis on ways students can make a difference.”

Model houses in the Button Up workshop extension.

Model houses in the Button Up workshop extension.

In addition to updating the workshop, the staff at VEEP have created a workshop extension for grades 6–8, challenging middle school students to design, construct, and test a model house with the goal of making it as efficient to heat as possible. VEEP offers a kit of all materials needed to run the extension. VEEP educators can support teachers in leading this extension or other lessons on energy to fit with their curriculum.

The Button Up update was funded by Vermont Gas, Efficiency Vermont, and VSECU.

To schedule a workshop, contact your local VEEP educator, or contact Cara Robechek at 802-552-VNRG or cara@veep.org.