Sparking Education in the Classroom
February 27, 2023
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.
After two years of virtual Energy Education presentations, we were back in the classrooms to teach students in-person again. This year, we presented to nearly 1,800 students at 32 schools throughout 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.
Cooperative lineworkers Levi Jessen and Matt Pieper co-presented the Energy Education and electrical safety demonstrations this year with energy management electrician, Jamie Plumski and member and employee engagement coordinator, Katie Anderson. The presenters teamed up and took turns facilitating the demonstrations for local classrooms.
“It’s important for us to offer the Energy Education presentations and educate these students because it teaches the kids the dangers of electricity and how to be safe around electricity,” Jessen said. “After the presentation, they can go home and share that information with their families as well.”
“Our goal is to provide students with a background on electricity and how it works before showing them the safety portion of the display,” Plumski added. “You can see the literal sparks reflect in the students’ eyes when it finally clicks for them what they are learning and the importance of why we are teaching them.”
“After presenting virtually for two years, being back in person and face-to-face with the kids versus seeing them on the screen is so nice. The best part of teaching Energy Education are the reactions we get from the kids during each demonstration when there is an arc flash. Feeling their energy is electric,” Jessen detailed.
“Once we get to the safety display portion of the presentation, the students are so excited,” Anderson said. “Seeing students’ reactions to the first arcs and sparks of the display are priceless. The linemen are really great about using the students’ excitement to drive home the messages of safety by explaining and demonstrating the dangers of electricity.”
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 were to hit electrical equipment. They learn that it is safest to stay inside the vehicle unless it were to start on fire.
“Along with knowing how to be safe if a vehicle they are in hits a power pole or transformer, I hope students always remember to be careful of a downed power line because you never know if it has power running through it or not,” explained Pieper.
“The linemen are great at answering the kids’ questions with their real-life experiences. When they share their knowledge, the passion for their career is evident,” Anderson described. “I love that we wrap up the presentation with picking a student to dress up like a lineworker so the class can see all the gear our lineworkers use daily to keep them safe.”
“My favorite part of presenting Energy Education is answering the students’ questions at the end of our demonstration,” Pieper said. “Some questions are very interesting, but the kids always put a lot of thought into their questions.”
Stearns Electric Association values community involvement and safety for everyone. 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.
You can view more photos from each presentation on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/stearnselectric.
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