Canadian Geographic Education


The Classroom Energy Diet Challenge

Photo: St. Mark's School/CEDC

How energy literate is your class? The Classroom Energy Diet Challenge is a free, bilingual national competition that encourages students to learn about the direct and indirect ways energy impacts one’s daily life, thereby encouraging students to take action.

The Classroom Energy Diet Challenge (CEDC) program is created by teachers for teachers and provides the tools to teach about energy in a fun and interactive way. First introduced in 2011 by Canadian Geographic Education and Shell Canada, this award-winning program came out of a need for increased energy literacy programs in Canadian elementary and secondary schools. The CEDC engages students to think about energy in a new and often personal way. Increasingly, the topic of energy has dominated the Canadian media and political landscape. In order for students to be invested and involved in energy issues in the country, they must first learn about it. The CEDC encourages students to look at all aspects of their life in which they use energy, assess their current use and determine ways in which they can reduce it.

The CEDC has made environmental education and energy literacy a priority for students, their families and their communities for more than a decade. Participation in the CEDC demonstrates a commitment to reducing energy consumption and being aware of energy issues. The students who participate in the program become more conscious of their energy use and their impact on the environment, and, as a result, more mindful of how they interact with energy.

Photo: Participating classroom/CEDC

How it works

Throughout the challenge period (February to April, inclusive), classrooms work together to complete energy-themed challenges. Each challenge is designed to teach students about the different ways energy is connected to their lives with the goal of increasing their overall energy awareness. All challenges come with a bilingual lesson plan, accompanying handouts and extra resources to help students and teachers take their learning to the next level.

The CEDC is the only energy literacy competition in Canada for K-12 students. Teachers can select the number of challenges to complete and the order to complete them in based on the needs of their students. Each time a class completes a challenge, they’ll receive credit for completing that challenge. The more challenges a class completes, the more opportunities they will have to win prizes.


Photo: Participating classroom/CEDC

Sample challenges

  • Video Challenge: Students get to flex their creative muscles to produce a one-minute public service announcement about the importance of energy awareness. After uploading their video to the contest website, the class engages the public to get as many votes as possible during the voting period. Winning video submissions are chosen through a combination of public voting and evaluation by a panel of judges.
  • One Hour No Power: Students will discover how productive they can be without using any power at school or at home.
  • What’s Old is New: Using clean, recycled materials, students have the opportunity to create artwork or upcycle items.
  • Round and Round it Goes: Students get the chance to explore the circular economy and take a closer look at programs that are seeking to reduce waste.
Photo: Participating classroom/CEDC

Highlights from past years

  • 2022: Classrooms saved 138,460 litres of water, kept 107,182 items from going into a landfill and went 2,653 hours without power.
  • 2021: Classrooms saved 118,468 litres of water, kept 25,944 items from going into a landfill and went 3,273 hours without power.
  • 2020: Classrooms saved 151,559 litres of water, prevented 17,170 bottles from entering the landfill, and went 2,342 hours without power.
  • 2019: Classrooms saved more than 417,000 litres of water, went more than 3,600 hours without power, and saved more than 316,000 plastic bags from being thrown away.
  • 2018: Classrooms across Canada spent more than 4,500 hours without power, prevented more than 780 kilograms of trash from entering the landfill, and saved more than 20,800 kWh of energy.
  • 2017: The CEDC received an Excellence in Environmental Education and Communication honorary mention for outstanding organization.
  • 2016: The CEDC was the Emerald Award Winner for Public Education and Outreach.
Photo: St. Mary School/CEDC
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