Local eighth grade students from South Sumter Middle School traveled to SECO Energy Monday and Tuesday for a field trip at the not-for-profit cooperative to learn about the basics of power related to nuclear, hydro, biomass, wind and solar. Students visited a variety of stations for hands-on practice and experience. The eighth-grade science students are learning about solar power and other energy sources in their classes.
SECO Energy’s Manager of Key Accounts and Energy Services Barbie Shaw opened the field trip by stating, “Today is a great day at SECO Energy. We’re excited to host over 100 eighth graders from South Sumter Middle School to provide an overview of solar power generation and electricity in general. SECO feels educating local students is a commitment to our communities and an investment in our future leaders.”
Key Accounts Consultant Jeff Light provided the audience with an overview of energy basics. Light demonstrated how energy is generated by fossil fuels, nuclear, hydropower, wind, biomass and geothermal means. Energy Services Supervisor Dustin Merritt delved into the basics of solar generation. Merritt presented students with solar definitions, how solar power is generated and how generated solar power is converted into usable energy. Students learned about the materials used to manufacture solar panels, how humidity and cloud cover affect solar production and the pros and cons of solar installation.
After the overview, students visited five stations to expand their industry knowledge. At station one, students engaged with Energy Services and Engineering employees to see SECO Energy’s Solar Square in action as it produced usable electricity. SECO metering technicians were positioned at station two to educate students about different types of meters, meter testing and a short explanation about net metering for solar generation. Station three included kits for students to assemble hand-held solar panels that produce energy to power small fans. The Solar Pathfinder was available at station four for a hands-on demonstration showing the students how the path of the sun and shading from trees and buildings can reduce solar production. Finally, at station five SECO Energy Human Resources personnel showcased the varied high-tech careers available in today’s energy industry. This station also showcased the safety equipment that SECO field personnel use to protect themselves on the job.
Eighth grade science teacher from South Sumter Middle School Shelly Paulinyce is excited for students’ real-world solar power experience. Paulinyce stated, “Eighth grade science students are learning about solar power in the classroom. Visiting SECO Energy is not only a review of the classroom lesson, it offers students the opportunity to expand their thought process to connect to the real world. Today’s field trip is a great preview for a future lesson. Students will soon be building and racing solar-powered cars in the classroom. The lesson that demonstrated the hand-held solar panel and fan will help them understand the process for their future activity.”
SECO Energy’s solar centric eighth grade curriculum field trip continues on September 30 and October 1 drew more than 200 eighth grade science students from South Sumter Middle School. All students who attended the field trip received a SECO gift bag and the chance to win door prizes. In November, students from Wildwood Middle School’s eighth grade science classes will also attend the SECO event.
School administrators who are interested in adding real-world experience to their students’ eighth grade science curriculum are encouraged to contact SECO Energy about available field trip dates and times. SECO also visits local elementary schools with presentations about energy and electrical safety geared toward younger students. Requests for those presentations can be made through the same email address.