Child Computer Interaction Group

Local teenagers test energy consumption at UCLan

Local teenagers test energy consumption at UCLanPupils from St Michaels CE High School in Chorley have visited the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) to take part in a sustainability day as part of a wider study into teenage energy consumption.

The year nine pupils worked with UCLan’s ChiCI (Child Computer Interaction) Group to share their ideas on ways that future technology can reduce our impact on the environment; this included a straw that can successfully filter any type of water, phones made from recycled plastic bottles and shoes that can charge a mobile phone.  They also tested out apps developed by the ChiCI team that assess their domestic energy use and their understanding of it.

The school’s visit is part of a wider UK study called Taking on the Teenagers led by ChiCI, along with Northumbria University, the University of Birmingham, Swansea University and the Institute of Education in London.  The project involved over 1,000 teenagers, including 250 from Lancashire, from around the country who have worked with the researchers to assess their domestic energy use, their understanding of it and come up with new ways of reducing it. 

The idea behind the project is to change the way the next generation thinks about energy and sustainability and results of the £1.5million study will be published next year.    

The St Michael’s pupils tested out apps that assess what brands they think are cool and what aren’t, what technologies they use and also what their current energy consumption habits are such as switching off appliances and lights when not using them.  

Professor Janet Read, principal investigator of the project from ChiCI, said: “This innovative project has advanced our knowledge on how to work with teenagers as researchers and designers and has led to new understandings of participation and representation.   

“These have been surprising outcomes from this project.  The teenagers we have worked with have been imaginative and interested in sustainable issues and our engagement with them has encouraged us that this population have a lot to offer to design.”

Dr Dan Fitton, senior lecturer in interaction design at UCLan, commented: “Some of the most interesting work has been around understanding ‘cool’ and how to create cool technologies that will capture the interest of these young people and make them want to engage with it.  We will use the results of the study to further understand how we can create new energy awareness technologies for teenagers.”

Lisa Armstrong, a science teacher at St Michael’s, brought the pupils to UCLan for the event.  She said: “The Science department is extremely grateful for the opportunity to take part in the sustainable energy workshops at UCLan.