Kids Bring Home the Message to Cool the Earth!

Nov. 24, 2013 Update, Cool the fans!

KIDS will soon be able to track THEIR own role in reducing their carbon footprint, not just with the fun kids carbon calculator, but with a show and tell, action-inducing Cool The app that engages kids to inspire the whole family to take action and measure results hands-on.

Slated for early 2014, (see demo after the jump) the Cool the Earth education app will guide children to connect the dots on the carbon footprint trail and help them make small changes in their own homes so they put their learning to use to SEE and BE the change.

I’ll be writing a full feature about Cool the Earth’s new venture into apps to update my prior posts, Kids Bring Home the Message to Cool The Earth and Inspiring Kids as Stewards of the Planet …For now here’s a reprise of the original post with eco-tips from Forest, and more ideas at the end for how tech is tackling food waste and why we need to avoid the tweet-n-eat social media. Solutions that innovate and educate? I’ll gobble that right up…

Original Post: 5 year flashback: 2008 Now THIS kind of marketing is right up my alley…Cool the Earth is a fun, free, no-hassle enrichment segue from school to home that blends web-based and real life incentives with friendly competition and a ‘child to parent’ upsell strategy…(that’s marketing-speak for kids as influencers)

At Shaping Youth, we use a similar child-driven empowerment model for counter-marketing junk food, as kids ‘take home’ the message to parents in show-n-tell form…and ‘learn’ better choices from the kids.

Cool the Earth co-founder Carleen Cullen is essentially doing the same thing only to reduce a family’s carbon footprint! “Marketers know that KIDS influence parents, we’re just taking the same dynamic and applying it to global warming.” Ah, great minds…Kids use the dreaded ‘pester power’ to initiate positive change in households (twisty bulbs, power-down computers, turn off the car idling at school drop-off etc.)

So what IS the Cool the Earth program?

Part challenge, part game, part eco-literacy in a box, it’s a fresh, easy way to enable kids to ‘see the change’ firsthand, engage the entire family in reducing their carbon footprint, and learn the basics of climate change at a grassroots level. How cool is THAT?

We’ve all learned the hard way that adapting kid-friendly programs into ‘core curriculum’ is a time sink, whereas schools easily embrace ‘enrichment,’ since it’s student and parent run, ‘apolitical,’ and takes place outside of the classroom with turnkey support materials all set and ready to run.

I brought Cool the Earth materials into our middle-school eco and wellness club planning session to pitch the idea of getting the whole school involved (about 1000 kids) and see if it would ‘play in Peoria’ so to speak…

Teachers and parents donning polar bear heads is inherently funny and effective in getting the attention and some giggles with the K-5 crowd at a kick-off assembly, but in rougher middle-school environs? Hmn…

Then again, humiliation of adults in any capacity is usually worth some grins to tweenagers, and coaches and teachers are usually incredibly good sports so this could fly just fine…Founder Carleen Cullen assured me the programs are completely different (scripts, style, etc.) for the K-5 and 6-8 crowd. I can’t wait to jump into it if we get the go ahead, as I’ll be doing a ‘play by play’ story here as to how it pans out with the upper grades and would love to give it a go at the elementary level too…

It’s got such a universal appeal for all and so important to ‘get ’em while they’re young’ in terms of initiating positive ‘tread lightly to stand even a smidge of a chance in our ‘buy-buy-baby’ consumerist culture.

Essentially, all it takes is ONE assembly to kick off this grassroots green program for climate change, and if the “powers-that-be” decide not to allow THAT due to time crunches, we’ll probably just piggyback onto an existing event like Science Fair or Earth Day, or move it to lunchtime…

Then the kids can take it from there, bringing home Cool the Earth influences for micro-change into every household!

The screenshot at left is from a moment ago, boosted since my last check-in, so I can see how the kids would smile at the progress!

Cool the Earth has already motivated over 6,000+ families to make over 12,000 environmental changes impacting their carbon emissions, saving more than 10 million pounds of carbon from going into the atmosphere, (the equivalent of taking 860 cars off the road) and championing change in 25 Northern California schools…

Now, their nonprofit is funded well enough to expand its reach with free kits to 100 schools nationally, ramped and ready to roll out. (complete with polar bear and Mr. Carbon funky costumes, a mother nature garland, the works)

They’re hoping to pay it forward from coast to coast as a positive model of environmental change that bridges from school to home to community, to maximize engagement in a ripple effect…

I’m so excited about our similarities in aligned missions and methodology that we’ll probably end up partnering in some capacity. We both firmly believe KIDS can be the conduit for sustainable social change, and we both started as ‘one mom, one voice, one mission’ and we both are implementing cause-marketing via entertainment tactics to make the learning fun!

cte-bannerWith the recent Congressional passage of the NCLI Act (No Child Left INSIDE) encouraging students’ eco-literacy by getting kids outdoors for life lessons in applied sciences, I ALSO think Cool the Earth could easily be an ‘E-ticket’ for eco-educators to promote a win-win for the planet while educating kids on ways to rise above global warming! (great kids’ book selections  in that link on EcoChild’s Play!)

So here’s how it works:

Kids are given (recycled) ‘action coupons’ at the assembly to take home, implement, and reward the family’s baby steps by tracking their progress, using peer to peer challenges to instigate competition intra-district, by classroom, by neighborhood, by sports team, however you want to implement change! (here’s a video clip from the local news team)

Then, the parent-coordinator logs in the progress on the main website so kids get to see their ‘big picture’ impact contributing to the others partipating across the country as well…Love it!

Scalable. Doable. Baby steps toward changing people’s stripes, as our partners at Green Zebra would say!

cool the earth screenshotUsing education as motivation, kids FEEL the hope and promise of reversing the climate crisis, turning daily deeds and personal choices into actions that are doable, sustainable, and ultimately, they are ‘marketing hope!’

Face it, jaded adults could use a boost of eager enthusiasm, often best recruited to learn these life skills by youth themselves…after all, kids will be around this planet longer than we will, so they’re not only the future stakeholders, they’re the promise for the planet.

Remember the triplet teens that launched Polar Bear Nation? Case in point…Apathy and overwhelm is trumped by activation and doability!

Since influence streams flow both ways between kids and adults, it makes sense that the action cycle spins both ways too.

As David Orr said, “When we heal the earth, we heal ourselves.”

So whether it’s Cool the Earth imparting their nuggets of green, or Shaping Youth counter-marketing nuggets of processed junk food, I say we engage kids as catalysts for household change toward a holistic, healthier, more natural view of the earth as an inter-connected whole.

What do you think? Do kids initiate change in your home?

Do they influence your words, deeds and actions?

This young Junior Reporter, Alex, from the Philippines gives her take on climate change and what kids can do to cool the earth! Look out Barbara Walters! 🙂 Inspiring…



  1. This photo of the polar bears swimming due to melted ice floe really got my attention!! WWF has extended their deadline for preservation of endangered species call to action on the govt. admin until 10-15…More on their site here:

    An aerial survey by government scientists in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea this week found at least nine polar bears swimming in open water — with one at least 60 miles from shore — raising concern among wildlife experts about their survival. A World Wildlife Fund (WWF) polar bear expert said the bears could have difficulty making it safely to shore and risk drowning, particularly if a storm arises.

    “To find so many polar bears at sea at one time is extremely worrisome because it could be an indication that as the sea ice on which they live and hunt continues to melt, many more bears may be out there facing similar risk,” said Geoff York, a polar bear biologist with WWF. “As climate change continues to dramatically disrupt the Arctic, polar bears and their cubs are being forced to swim longer distances to find food and habitat.”

    Scientists say the Arctic is changing more rapidly and acutely than anywhere on the planet, noting that 2007 witnessed the lowest sea ice coverage in recorded history. Satellite images indicate that ice was absent in most of the region where the bears were found on August 16, 2008 and some experts predict this year’s sea ice loss could meet or exceed the record set last year

    The discovery of the nine bears at sea came as the U.S. Minerals Management Service was conducting marine surveys in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas in advance of potential offshore oil development.

    WWF polar bear experts on the ground in Alaska are assessing the situation and will provide updates to the media as more details unfold.

    In May, the U.S. Department of Interior listed polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne cited the strong body of science pointing to the significant loss of Arctic sea ice habitat as the primary reason for protecting the bear with federal legislation. The State of Alaska has opposed the listing and has sued the federal government over its decision to list the bear.

    Professor Richard Steiner of the University of Alaska’s Marine Advisory Program said, “While these bears are swimming around in an ice-free coastal Arctic Ocean, the only thing the State of Alaska is doing is suing the federal government trying to overturn the listing of polar bears. The bottom line here is that polar bears need sea ice, sea ice is decaying, and the bears are in very serious trouble. For any people who are still non-believers in global warming and the impacts it is having in the Arctic, this should answer their doubts once and for all.”

    Help save endangered species by stopping the proposed changes that will weaken the Endangered Species Act!!!!!!!!

  2. We’re building out something similar to Polar Bear Nation on our site Polar Bears Rock. However, we’re using flash games to engage kids to become aware about the polar bears.

    Take a look:

  3. Thanks for this! You all should unite and cross-market! I think I’ll blog it over on Eco Child’s Play (Green Options Network) too…Another good offering is Dr. Tim Foresman’s ‘Last Little Polar Bear’ book to impart the scenario to kids in a hopeful way..

    Last night I had a poignant reminder from Richard Louv though who said, in essence, “we are creating a generation of kids that can click for the planet or be concerned about eco-environs, yet they can’t tell poison ivy if they see it or know what a redwood canopy is…’

    So the challenge with gaming and digital sites to me is how to bridge the online experience to offline experiential tactile, real life engagement that’s sustainable in terms of seeding kids’ stewardship of the planet, and moreover, their own health and well-being of outdoor play sans plug-ins! 🙂
    There’s gotta be a balance…

  4. I see you’re linked in to the Polar Bears Int’l site with funding features…very cool Tamara…keep it up!

  5. I think this is a great idea to ge the kids involved in the community and to make them aware of their responsibility to the society. A great topic for our dinner group! Kudos for coming up with this!
    Heather (dinner trader)
    .-= heather´s last blog ..The Calendar that Saved a Friendship =-.

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