Pandemic or not, entries for PSEG Long Island’s first-ever Earth Day Video PSA contest weren’t lacking in the PSEG Long Island service area. There were 207 PSA videos submitted by 4,347 fourth to eighth-grade students from 32 elementary and middle schools representing 18 school districts in Nassau and Suffolk Counties along with the Rockaways. The utility picked 10 to make the final cut on Earth Day 2021, with the announcement being made live via webinar to dozens of students and teachers that participated in the competition. The Anton Media Group coverage area was well represented with finalists coming from the East Meadow, Mineola and Oyster Bay-East Norwich school districts.
The I AM EM-Powered Program and Student Challenge that participants took part in was created by educational consultants, D. Barrett Associates. The STEM-related coursework provided lessons on energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy in alignment with current educational standards on these topics. It was also tailored for classroom, virtual learning and hybrid scenarios. Teachers could select and submit their favorite three videos to be judged by a strict grading rubric. Visit www.youtube.com/psegli to view the 10 award-winning videos. Then click the playlist titled “I Am EM-powered PSA contest winners 2021.” A recording of the announcement ceremony is part of the playlist.
Mineola Middle School Science teacher Vince Interrante, whose student quartet of seventh graders Nicole Marino, Clara Levy, Brooke Marek and Leah Anzalone were winners with their “Energy Conservation” entry, appreciates the dialogue about the environment the competition encourages.
“Clara, Brooke, Leah and Nicole created an inspirational PSA on energy conservation,” he said. “PSEG’s contest afforded students all across Long Island [the ability] to have their voices heard. My seventh grade science class couldn’t stop talking about ways to conserve energy and the need to be more energy efficient.”
Winner Skyler Placella, a fifth grader at Oyster Bay’s James H. Vernon School for his “Special Energy Agent” entry, was inspired by the curriculum his teacher Diana Hauser has been using with their class.
“My winning submission was a video about conserving energy,” Placella said. “I felt very strong about the topic and wanted to get the message out to other people. I was inspired because I have been learning about renewable and nonrenewable recourses and became concerned that our fossil fuels will run out one day if we don’t do something about it.”
Hauser was equally thrilled by the competition and the ripple effect its had.
“We love this program,” Hauser said. “It proved to be a perfect culminating activity for our resources unit. I am so proud of Skyler and all my students for being so enthusiastic about conserving energy. They were excited to create the PSAs to inspire others to take action to conserve energy. The prize will be used to purchase something great for my students.”
For those participants lucky enough to be in the Top 10, awards are individual $75 Amazon gift cards for each team member. Teachers and classrooms each receive a $100 Amazon gift card to celebrate the student team’s winning entry.
Frugality was at the core of East Meadow Middle Schooler Juliette Markesano’s entry, whose “5 Easy Ways To Save Money” PSA made the final cut.
“My video was about five ways you can save water energy and money,” Markesano said. “My inspiration for my video was I wanted to tell everyone about these helpful ways to save energy, water and money. They are very useful tips and can make a difference and are even things you can do in you own home.”
Like her peers, Markesano’s teacher Karen Alonge, was equally effusive about the importance of this PSEG Long Island competition.
“I will say that I am a big advocate of protecting the environment any way we can,” Alonge said. “This program allowed me to show my students that little daily changes like saving electricity and water, recycling, etc., can make a positive impact. ”
PSEG Long Island director of Customer Experience and Utility Marketing Suzanne Brienza, who co-hosted the webinar with PSEG Long Island director of Energy and Renewable Energy Michael Voltz, reiterated the significance of the PSAs to a broader audience.
“The students’ messages of protecting our oceans, conserving electricity and using energy efficient light bulbs are lessons for all of us,” she said.