Changing Behavior to Reduce Energy Consumption

Preliminary Results of Three Year Study Suggests In-School Theatre Program Helps Students Understand Energy Choices

Mar 07, 2011, 18:00 ET from The National Theatre for Children

MINNEAPOLIS, March 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- After receiving a multiplatform, in-school energy curriculum centered on a professional theatre performance, students tested higher for overall understanding of important energy issues than before the exposure, according to a study by Research Into Action (RIA), an independent research company specializing in energy issues.

RIA examined students who received an integrated curriculum developed by The National Theatre for Children in five states throughout the Tennessee Valley.  The curriculum, designed for students grades K-9, consists of a live performance, classroom exercises, and homework assignments that teach students how energy is produced and steps they can take to reduce energy consumption.

The science-based curriculum teaches students that electricity is a form of energy made with resources. Students learn that renewable and non-renewable resources are used to produce electricity. The curriculum connects knowledge and understanding with choices students can make about using energy and the resources needed to make electricity.

Connecting energy resources with electricity may help children understand the need for behavior changes, according to Ryan Bliss, project director at Research Into Action, an Oregon-based behavior research firm with expertise in energy-related projects and energy audits.

"The increased test scores among students who receive the NTC curriculum are highly suggestive that in- school energy education helps children learn concepts that can influence behaviors," Bliss said. "Quality education is crucial to understanding the need to change behavior, and we are seeing increased test scores across all ages, all grades and in both urban and rural schools."  Students involved in the curriculum also show a greater understanding for differences between renewable and non-renewable resources, and that resources produce energy to power their computers, iPods, video games and cell phones.

Powerful Teaching Tool

"Live theater is a powerful teaching tool, especially when integrated with student workbooks, in-class discussion and homework assignments that engage parents," affirms Ward Eames, president of NTC, an organization that has been bringing energy, environmental and social programs to U.S. schools for over 30 years. "The preliminary results from the first of our three year research study shows that students exposed to the theatre experience used as an introduction to the classroom curriculum understand more than the control group that did not receive the program."

According to Bliss, the first phase of the research suggests that children are learning the core educational concepts presented in the curriculum and confirms the content is consistent with expected behaviors. "Even young students can understand that they have energy choices.  And the younger they begin learning, the more likely students will retain these concepts through their life," Bliss explains. "We are looking at how well the knowledge is retained and whether the understanding has affected students' intentions and self-reported behavior."

Preliminary results are encouraging. Students exposed to the NTC curriculum tested significantly higher in their understanding of both resources and renewable resources, including hydro power, than they did prior to the program. Test scores jumped in all grade levels after students received the theatre performance and curriculum.

About RIA

Research Into Action, Inc. is a social marketing and evaluation research firm that specializes in research and market assessment design and analysis services in the fields of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and natural resource management. Based in Portland, OR, the company has worked on a wide range of energy projects, energy efficiency research and energy audits.  For more information, visit the RIA Web site at: or call 1-888-492-9100.

About The National Theatre for Children (NTC)

Founded in 1978, NTC is the largest in-school touring company in the world. It has developed the art of teaching through a combination of live theatre, television, print and Web learning into an evidence-based science of its own.  NTC has pioneered dozens of extremely successful programs in health, science, social studies and financial literacy.  For more information, visit the NTC Web site at or call 1-800-858-3999.

For more information: Katie Griep, Director of Sales and Marketing, or 612-341-0882 x202

SOURCE The National Theatre for Children