PSEG Long Island once again hosts PSA video contest
In keeping with community outreach in celebrating Earth Day, PSEG Long Island is running its first-ever energy efficiency contest. Not unlike last year’s “I Am EM-Powered! Public Service Announcement (PSA) Student Contest” that found the utility company celebrating Earth Day’s half-century mark, this year’s competition was open to fourth through eighth graders. The response was 80-plus submissions from 4,347 students representing 207 classes and included the participation of 82 teachers in a number of school districts including East Meadow, Hicksville, Mineola, Oyster Bay-East Norwich and Port Washington. The deadline for the submissions was Tuesday, April 6, with winners to be announced on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, at 10 a.m. when the top 10 Best Video PSAs get revealed in a special Zoom session.
In recent years, PSEG Long Island has maintained a robust Community Partnership Program, which includes bringing several educational programs into schools, after-school and camp programs to educate tens of thousands of students each year about energy conservation, electric safety and preparing for an emergency. With the impact of the pandemic and social distancing orders, this new contest was added to the educational program lineup in 2020, making hands-on community service, including in person education, continuing to be put on hold this year.
This year’s program includes curriculum and a hands-on project where students create video public service announcement (PSAs) on energy efficiency topics. Two lessons are adapted for use in classroom and/or virtual learning in keeping with the current teaching atmosphere and include a process in how to create a PSA. The curriculum aligns to Science and Engineering Practices from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), the Ten Themes of Social Studies from the National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) and the Core SEL Competencies from the Collaborative for Social, Academic and Social Learning (CASEL). Lessons aligned to standards of teaching students about energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Submissions must include compelling research-based facts about these topics and a call to action to protect the environment and promote energy efficiency in recognition of Earth Day and are judged by a strict criteria rubric. Ultimately, lessons are meant to inspire others and empower students to work in teams to share message through PSAs.
Students and teachers alike rose to the challenge.
At the James H. Vernon School in the Oyster-Bay East Norwich School District, fifth-grader Silas Miller decided to make a video about renewable energy in which he wanted to show how impressive nature is and how to save it by making better choices. Miller enjoyed the experience despite unexpected difficulties.
“The hardest part was surprisingly the sound effects,” Miller said, “Because iMovie has no sound effects of birds chirping, I had to go on a hunt for sound effects of birds chirping. My favorite part was making the backgrounds, I had amazing photos from my cousins and I got to organize them however I want, which was also the most fun part.”
For Mineola seventh-grader Nicole Marino, while inspiration came from wanting to show others practical ways to conserve energy in their homes, she wound up learning a few things herself.
“I wanted to create something that others could relate to regardless of the kind of environment they come from,” she said. “After discovering and researching these ways to conserve energy, I feel I should start to conserve more whenever possible.”
The competition was equally gratifying for Marino’s teacher, Mineola Middle School Science 7’s Vince Interrante.
“Competition-Based learning gives students the opportunity to explore real-world issues,” he said. “The PSEG I Am Empowered PSA contest allowed students to engage in authentic learning experiences that have immediate relevance to their lives. I’m thankful [to PSEG Long Island] for creating this enriching opportunity for our students. My class had multiple opportunities to engage in conversations that gave meaning to how young people can make a difference in the world.”
Over in Port Washington’s Weber Middle School, Maria Shapiro’s seventh-graders took more of a musical tact with one of their entries, entitled “Please Start Now,” a parody of the Dua Lipa song “Don’t Start Now.” Project lead singer Aneesha Mirza was particularly passionate about the importance of this project.
“I’ve seen people pollute the world and it’s not okay,” Mirza said. “While trying to figure out what went with the lyrics and what doesn’t, it was most fun when it was finally finished. I thought it came out pretty good.”
Shapiro, who submitted three PSAs for each of her two science classes, was equally effusive when talking about the opportunities presented by this contest.
“This project gave me an opportunity as a science teacher and environmentalist to talk about the lack of sustainability of fossil fuels,” she said. “Students did research projects on fossil fuels and leaned that they are a natural resource that has a finite supply. I also liked watching the kids cooperate and collaborate on this project; it’s fun to see them use their creativity to communicate.”
For PSEG Long Island Director of Customer Experience and Utility Marketing Suzanne Brienza, the I AM EM-Power Program and Student Challenge for Earth Day continues to be a positive experience for all involved.
“Three dozen teachers from across Long Island and the Rockaways utilized the eco-friendly coursework to teach 4,500 students in a fun and interactive way,” she said. “Nearly 200 student-created video public service announcements were submitted for the contest and all of us at PSEG Long Island are looking forward to the lessons these young environmental advocates will teach us about what we can do to protect and nurture our planet.”