Area Students Learn about Energy, Electrical Safety
Every year as part of the Cooperative’s commitment to safety and community, Stearns Electric Association presents a one-hour energy education and electrical safety demonstration to local fourth grade classrooms throughout our service territory. This year, we presented to nearly 1,800 students at 35 schools across Central Minnesota.
During the presentation, students learn about the basics of electricity, including details on the seven types of generation fuels, conductors and insulators, our nation’s power grid and Stearns Electric’s local distribution system. The highlight of the presentation is the live electric home and farm model, where students see first-hand what happens when people, vehicles or equipment come into contact with electricity.
Our Cooperative’s line workers co-present the energy education and electrical safety demonstrations with the Communications department. Stearns Electric linemen Mike Siemers and Wayne Senst took turns this year facilitating the safety demonstrations for local classrooms.
“It’s important for us to educate the students so they know how to be safe with things involving electricity, and overall just being safer in general,” Senst said. “After our presentation, they can go home and share the information with their family so everyone learns how to be safer with electricity.”
“The best part of presenting energy education is being able to answer the questions that the students have,” Siemers said. “My favorite presentations are the ones where students ask good questions about my work as a lineman or about the distribution system.”
“It’s so fun to watch the students learn throughout the presentation. We actually test their new knowledge about halfway through each presentation with an activity,” Whitney Ditlevson, communications and marketing supervisor, said. “Our goal is to provide them with a little bit of background on electricity before showing them the display.”
“Once we get to the safety display, the students are so excited,” Katie Anderson, member and employee engagement coordinator, said. “They really enjoy seeing the arcs and sparks of the display, and the linemen are really great about driving home the messages of safety – explaining and demonstrating the dangers of electricity.”
“The linemen are able to answer the technical questions that the students have with real-life examples and experiences,” Anderson continued. “Throughout the presentation, students are able to learn more about what a line worker does and understand how electricity gets to their homes and schools from the power plant.”
“My favorite part of teaching energy education is watching the kids get excited, but at the same time learning why it’s important to be safe with electricity,” Senst said.
“The passion that the linemen have for their job is obvious when they are in front of the students,” Ditlevson explained. “I can tell they really enjoy sharing their knowledge and experiences with the fourth graders.”
Although students are always excited to see the live safety demonstration, the energy education presentations are intended to reiterate the Cooperative’s messages regarding safety around electrical equipment.
Perhaps the most important safety takeaway from the presentation is the students’ knowledge about what to do if a vehicle hits a power pole.
“One thing I hope fourth graders walk away knowing after each presentation is what to do if the vehicle they are in hits a power pole,” Siemers said. “When they leave our presentation, I hope they all know to stay in the vehicle unless it starts on fire.”
Stearns Electric Association values community involvement and public safety. Our energy education presentations reinforce these important messages with the hope that local students will bring their new electrical efficiency and safety knowledge home to their families.
For more information on our annual energy education programming, please visit www.stearnselectric.org.
September 15, 2023
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