Students enlightened through “Co-ops in the Classroom”

What do socks, light bulbs and bicycles have in common? All these materials are being used to teach local students throughout Central Electric Cooperative’s service territory about electricity.

Co-ops in the Classroom is a program offered by Central Electric’s wholesale power provider, East River Electric Power Cooperative. The interactive presentation was delivered to fourth and fifth graders at Sanborn Central Elementary on March 1, and to fourth and sixth graders at Woonsocket Elementary on March 2.

Jennifer Gross, Communications Coordinator for East River, travels throughout East River’s service territory in eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota to teach children about electrical safety, generation, conservation and economics.

During the course of the hour-long presentation, Gross took the students on the journey of electricity at the atomic level, all the way to the hundreds of miles it travels from the power plant to our homes.

A variety of hands-on demonstrations engages the students. A Van de Graaff generator demonstrated the movement of electrons with some hair-raising results.

“That one is always a crowd-pleaser,” said Gross. “Not only does it provide a visible and audible example of how electricity moves, students also get a kick out of seeing their hair stand up and shocking their friends. Sometimes we even get the teachers to join in.”

Another device that invokes a lot of excitement is the Pedal Power bicycle generator. Students are asked to become power plants as they provide the energy that produces electricity for lights and small household devices.

“The Pedal Power turns the concept of electricity from something abstract into something tangible. By providing the energy needed to make a light bulb turn on, the students are able to quantify just how much more energy an incandescent light bulb requires than a CFL or LED,” said Gross.

By the end of the presentation, students developed a new understanding and appreciation for electricity.

  Central Electric is a member-owned electric cooperative serving more than 4,500 members in Davison, Hanson, Miner, Sanborn, Jerauld, Buffalo, Brule and Aurora Counties. Central Electric has offered the Co-ops in the Classroom program to area schools for many years. For more information on energy education opportunities, please contact the cooperative office.

…See pictures in this weeks’ issue of the Sanborn Weekly Journal!

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