Sanborn Elementary fourth and fifth graders learn about electricity

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

  Co-ops in the Classroom is a program offered by Central Electric and its wholesale power provider, East River Electric Power Cooperative. The interactive presentation was delivered to fourth and fifth graders at Sanborn Central on March 29.

Jennifer Gross, Education and Outreach 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 one-hour presentation, Gross took students on the journey of electricity at the atomic level and through the hundreds of miles it travels from the power plant to our homes.

A variety of hands-on demonstrations engaged 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, but students also get a kick out of seeing their hair stand up and shocking their friends.”

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.

Kids also learned about electrical safety on the farm. 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 4,800 mostly rural members in Aurora, Brule, Buffalo, Davison, Hanson, Jerauld, Miner and Sanborn Counties. For more information on energy education opportunities, please contact the cooperative office.

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

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