Energy Education Continues in a Virtual World

February 25, 2021

Every year as part of Stearns Electric Association’s commitment to safety and community, we present an energy efficiency and electrical safety demonstration to local fourth grade classrooms throughout our service territory. This year, due to continued pandemic restrictions, the Cooperative got creative with its annual Energy Education programming.

With the Energy Education display set up in one of the Cooperative’s conference rooms, Stearns Electric presenters are able to use Zoom or Google Meet technology to connect with each classroom and present the program virtually.

“Our Energy Education program is always a favorite among the students we present to and we didn’t want this year’s fourth graders to miss out on it due to the ongoing pandemic,” Katie Anderson, Stearns Electric’s Energy Education coordinator, said. “We were able to come up with a way to visit the classrooms virtually this year. It was definitely not as fun as being in person with the students, but it worked really well given the current circumstances.”

In 2021, we presented to 1,640 students at 33 schools throughout Central Minnesota.

This year, the Cooperative’s communication department pre-recorded a video educating students 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. As this is typically the first half of our presentation, we asked schools to show this video to their classrooms ahead of the live safety demonstration.

Stearns Electric line workers Wayne Senst and Levi Jessen then took turns facilitating the virtual, live safety demonstration. The demonstration features an electric home and farm model, where students see first-hand what happens when people, vehicles or equipment come into contact with electricity.

“The questions that the kids come up with are my favorite part of presenting Energy Education,” Jessen said. “I enjoy getting to share my knowledge of being a lineman with them.”

“It’s important for us to educate the students so they know how to be safe with things involving electricity,” Senst added. “After our presentation, they can go home and share the information with their family so everyone learns how to be safer with electricity.”

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,” Senst said “When they leave our presentation, I hope they all know to stay in the vehicle unless it starts on fire.”

“Following each demonstration we take time for the students to ask questions. The linemen are able to answer the technical questions that the students have with real-life examples and experiences,” Anderson continued.

Although the virtual program is going well, we are all looking forward to hopefully being back in the classrooms next year.

“The virtual presentations are challenging, but we have come up with ways to make them as best as they can be,” Senst said.

“It will be a much better experience for them once we are able to get back in the classrooms. The arcs, sparks and noises of the presentation are much better in person,” Jessen added.

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 You can also visit the Stearns Electric Facebook page to see more photos and time-lapse video at