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Converting sunlight into electricity is important for our future, but it is still only half the battle. Fifteen-year-old Mario Visinoni grasped the power of conservation at an early age. So when his sixth-grade science teacher asked him to teach younger students about solar energy, Mario brought in his leaning tool of choice: the Kilowatt meter.

Name: Mario Visinoni

Occupation: 9th grade Student, Paradise High

Location: Paradise, California, USA

His Solar Story: Teach kids the power of conservation

His Bright Hope: Preserve the planet for his generation

Presenting to 3rd graders as part of Paradise Intermediate School’s “Solar-bration,” Mario showed them how to measure energy use for all sorts of household gadgets. He then conducted a contest: Each student had to guess how much wattage an appliance used. If they were within 50 watts they got a prize.

Mario blogged about his findings on Energy Seeds, an online journal that documents energy and environmental projects. Focusing on phantom loads, Mario explained how almost every home appliance uses some sort of energy, even when turned off. Leaving a power strip on, for example, even when the connected appliances are off, can suck serious energy over time: For his own school, Mario calculated over $4,000 in yearly phantom-load costs. “That is real money!” he wrote.

Even one blog post can make a difference. Greg Holman, Mario’s sixth-grade science teacher, says teachers still call him to say how much the article helps students understand renewable energy and conservation. As Greg puts it, “Mario’s enthusiasm and youth capture a greater audience than ‘just another teacher talking to us.’”

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