children, problem solving, wicked problems, energy efficiency, sustainability


Liberal Studies


Team Education Energy formed at Grand Valley State University’s Traverse City campus in the winter of 2015 through a course called “Wicked Problems in Sustainability” (LIB 322). For their project Team Education Energy reached out to Traverse City West Middle School with the idea to create an energy fair. The mission of the project was to help promote ideas of environmental stewardship and to engage and utilize student’s creativity in contributing to the solution of energy efficiency and energy use. The middle school students formed teams and used these concepts to determine what energy efficiency improvements could be made within the school and how they could be made. Team Education Energy met with Heather Wares’ advanced placement science class and discussed energy usage and encouraged the students to come up with solutions for their school that could be implemented. By involving young people and their school community in the project, the Team Education Energy was able to facilitate and encourage creativity, teamwork, dialogue, and problem solving skills while building a more sustainable future. Due to the team’s project, the kids were better able to understand what energy efficiency encompassed, how they could help reduce energy usage and how they might make sustainable energy options more viable in their school. Team Energy Education solicited stakeholders from northwest Michigan for judging the middle school students’ ideas and the winning team members were given a prize ($50.00 fun pass to Crystal Mountain Resort). The community stakeholders were chosen based on their ability to assist in the execution of the winning idea and their knowledge of energy issues/solutions. An additional project objective was to inspire other schools to provide a similar platform for young people offering hands-on experience and support while learning to better their community’s future.