Sydney Prescott smiled as she watched her fifth-graders giggle and toss a beach ball around the Goshen Elementary School classroom.
Words such as “electricity,” “open circuit,” “energy efficiency” and “insulator” were taped to the ball’s sides.
Georgia Power Education Coordinator Teresa Cobb caught the ball each time it sailed toward her. She called out the term closest to her thumb, and students eagerly responded, anxious to get the ball moving again.
It was only one activity the students engaged in during the Learning Power program May 4.
Learning Power is an initiative of Georgia Power to reinforce the Georgia Performance Standards in science. It also presents electric utilities as a career option and teaches energy efficiency.
“We believe in being a citizen wherever we serve,” Cobb said. “This is just another way we are working with the school systems in Georgia to enhance the students’ knowledge in physical science.”
The program is presented around the state by 11 education coordinators such as Cobb.
She is responsible for the East Region, which encompasses 12 counties including Richmond, Columbia, Burke, McDuffie and Jefferson.
Her five years as a kindergarten teacher and five years as an assistant principal prepared her for this job, she said.
“If I don’t know anything else, I know that after about two minutes of talking to these kids, that’s it. We’d better be doing something. It keeps them involved. It keeps them moving. It keeps them participating,” she said.
She’s used the beach ball activity in the past to teach vocabulary, to review for tests and to present her job during career fairs.
In another activity, students learned which materials are conductors and which are insulators by joining hands to form a circuit through which electricity could flow. If the object, such as a steel wool pad, was a conductor, an electricity ball held by two students would light up.
If the object, such as a rubber eraser, was an insulator, the ball would not light up. Students tested a variety of objects and sorted them based on whether they were conductors or insulators.
Austin Brantley, 11, said he learned more about what Georgia Power does.
“Like how they deal with other types of electricity and different power sources,” he said.
One of the purposes of the program is to present utilities as a career option. Students have to choose a career path by the eighth grade.
“They’re having to know more about STEM: science, technology, engineering and math. We target all of those areas and try to enhance students’ knowledge and just create their awareness about energy efficiency and electricity and the utility industry,” she said.
The new program is presented to students in third, fifth and eighth grades. The Georgia Performance Standards for those grades link directly with what Georgia Power does, Cobb said.
Prescott said she appreciated the opportunity for her students to participate in the program.
“It married so well with our curriculum,” Prescott said. “It was just an awesome complement to what the kids are learning in the classroom.”
Over the summer, Cobb and other education coordinators will develop curricula for other grades to broaden Georgia Power’s reach.
Cobb said many students have asked her if she could present at church groups and Boy Scout meetings. She said knowing that the children find it valuable enough to share is rewarding for her.
Fifth-grader Thomas McEnulty said his favorite activity was the electricity ball experiment.
“It wasn’t half bad,” he said of the whole presentation. He said he had already learned most of the concepts in class.
Prescott said the hands-on activities helped students understand the material from a much more relevant perspective than just concepts from a textbook.
“The really important thing, as far as Georgia Power coming out, is just that it makes this a real life experience for them,” she said. “We can talk about open and closed circuits all day long, but for them to see them in action and how they really work just makes it real for them.”