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Thursday, January 29, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 32.0° F  Overcast
The Daily
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Mama Madison: Earth Day awareness
MG&E's nifty eco-conscious video contest
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I am pretty sure we have a Major League Baseball-loving poltergeist living in our basement. What else could account for the sounds of Sports Center still emanating from the lower level every morning long after my high school aged son has left for school?

My daughter, now nearly 12, has fallen asleep with the lights on ever since she was a toddler. When she was two, it was out of fear that the boogeyman might pop out from under the bed to kidnap her in the middle of the night. But it doesn't matter how many times I point out that there is no way a monster could fit under there given the dirty socks, wet towels, long-neglected Barbies and limbless stuffed animals that currently claim squatters rights behind her dust ruffle; to this day, she still feels safer with not just a night light, but the overhead light on too, when she finally closes her eyes.

It may be a bigger waste of breath than electricity to ask my kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room. If I've nagged them once, I've nagged them a thousand times. No, I've never noticed anything amiss with their fingers. But it appears they are physically incapable of flipping a switch to the "off" position.

Nothing, not even threats to have them pitch in with the MGE bill, seems to work when it comes to getting the kids to help with our household's energy conservation.

So I was quite pleased to hear about a creative local contest that might just serve as the inspiration my offspring need to take reducing their carbon footprint just a little more seriously. And it involves using their iPods.

This year once again, in honor of Earth Day, Madison Gas & Electric will be sponsoring their "Celebrate Earth Day Every Day" video contest for elementary and middle school students. To participate, kids, either working in teams or individually, need to create a video no longer than five minutes that encourages others (or maybe even themselves) to take personal action in benefiting the environment.

The videos will be judged on originality, creativity, accuracy of information and practicality. The winning entry at both the elementary and middle school levels will win a party up to $500 for their entire class. Deadline to receive entries is May 2, 2014.

I have no doubt my kids can come up with dozens of original ideas for this. Both of my younger ones definitely have a little bit of that Super 8 spirit in them. Maybe there's a new version of the Cup Song they could film, but it can star all their friends rhythmically turning on--and more importantly--off lights? Or perhaps they could inspire a new dance craze? Instead of "Teach Me How to Bucky" it could be "Teach Me How to Chuckie (aluminum cans into the recycling can)"?

And I will definitely suggest they channel their inner Hitchcocks and consider something in the horror genre. After all, we already have a ghost living in the basement who I am sure would be happy to star. And the boogeyman living under my daughter's bed is probably ready for his close-up, too.

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