Brunswick students put climate knowledge to practical use

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BRUNSWICK — You could pay someone to weatherize your home, or you could ask a Brunswick seventh-grader how to do it yourself.

Brunswick Junior High School students showed off their new-found knowledge of home insulation at an open house at Curtis Memorial Library Wednesday night.

The event was the capstone of a unit on climate, where students learned the connection between global climate talks and personal ways to reduce emissions.

One student, Tyler, explained the recent COP21 climate talks in Paris.

“It stands for ‘Conference Of the Parties,'” he said. “It’s basically where a bunch of countries meet up to discuss their plans to stop climate change.”

“But (it) won’t be enough for some countries still,” he added.

His classmate, Alex, chimed in, saying that the island nation of the Maldives was already “experiencing floods” from rising sea levels.

The two boys had made a CNN-style newscast about the conference, including a blooper reel. The bloopers were longer than the original video.

Across the room, another seventh-grade student, Adeline, said weatherizing a home is a good way “to cut down on your carbon dioxide emissions from your house … and costs, too.”

She had a presentation explaining how to use caulk, spray foam, and weather stripping to seal the points where heat escapes from a house.

“I kind of liked the spray foam the best,” she said. “It’s like a can of whipped cream.”

She said that the door to her room at home is really drafty, and she is planning to use the class materials to insulate it.

Her classmate Fernando also had an idea for a home improvement project, and filled a hole in his wall using spray foam.

The kids have been helped on their journey towards energy efficiency by Cree Krull, an energy adviser at Evergreen Home Performance of Portland.

On Wednesday night, Krull explained how he had built a makeshift enclosure with the students, and then tested it for air leakage and heat loss.

Then they scaled up the experiment: Krull set up a blower door test on one of the junior high portables, and used an infrared camera to show where cold air penetrates.

He said he was impressed with the students’ curiosity about his work. “With grown-ups, they always want to just hand it off,” he said.

The teaching experience “was complete pandemonium,” he admitted. “But I think they were really engaged.”

At the end of the open house, the students’ families could take home caulk, foam, and weather stripping donated by Hammond Lumber Company.

Fernando especially recommended the do-it-yourself approach to home insulation.

“It can save you 10-15 percent on your energy bill,” he said.

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

Brunswick Junior High School students Alex, left, Tyler, and Fernando show off donated materials they’d learned to weatherize homes with in their seventh-grade climate unit.

Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.