Green ‘Edutainment’ in a Community Setting: Empowering Kids in the Natural & Built Environments

 Eileen Vandoros, Madison, WI

  • Child-friendly cities should provide children with educational programs which teach them to assume responsibility for taking care of the environment.
  • MaGicEnergy is a lively eco educational program designed to accomplish this in the greater Madison, Wisconsin area.
  • Underpinning its call to environmental action is the notion that one child can make a difference.
  • Since 2003, MaGicEnergy has engaged thousands of kids in schools, libraries, zoos, children’s museums, nature centers, energy fairs and family festivals.
  • Targeted to elementary and middle school-aged kids, the 30-minute performance combines strong earth-friendly messages with magic, juggling, humor, storytelling, and audience participation.
  • Program format is informed by real world evidence that learning is accelerated when educational content is presented in an entertaining manner.
  • A Leader’s Guide available to performance hosts includes lesson plans, glossary, and English and Spanish language scripts.

Major themes encourage resource efficiency, renewable energy and reducing one’s carbon footprint. “Efficient” juggling routines illustrate the value of stretching our resources and doing more with less. A local Energy Club is profiled to exemplify how kids and parents working together can save energy. A handcuff trick shows how steps like putting insulation in building walls can reduce energy use by preventing heat “escape.” An interactive “Simon Says” routine teaches 5 ways children and adults can save energy, from “turning off the juice when not in use” to using compact fluorescent bulbs.

At show’s end, a surprise “jumping stool” reinforces the idea that if kids make the commitment, they may be astonished by the results.

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