Columbia, MO. (Aug. 8, 2014) — Three teachers from schools in Co-Mo Electric Cooperative’s service territory spent two days at the University of Missouri learning about the realities of electricity production and delivery.
The course, taught Aug. 5-6 in the university’s Agricultural Engineering building, comes at a key time, as electricity producers battle the Environmental ProtectionAgency in an effort to maintain an all-of-the-above energy policy that keeps prices affordable.
Co-Mo sponsored Tom Andreas from Versailles High School, Carla Knipp from St. Andrew’s School and Daniel Waller from Cole Camp High School to attend the class along with 20 other teachers from around mid-Missouri. The course, titled “Energy in Today’s Classroom,” was led by university professor Dr. Leon Schumacher.
“There is so much misinformation and a general lack of information out there about the realities of electricity and the economics behind it,” said John Agliata, grassroots coordinator and communications manager for Co-Mo. “Our job is to make sure the other side to what the EPA claims is reality is at least discussed so hopefully the students are given all the facts and can make a choice for themselves as they get older about which way our country should go.”
The purpose behind the class — which launched in 2013 and is supported by the university, the Mid State 8 electric cooperatives and Ameren Missouri — is to help teachers learn these realities so they can better educate their students.Topics included the basics of electricity production, the latest research into ground source heat pumps and the questionable science underpinning climate-change theory. Presentations also showed how Ameren’s nuclear plant in Callaway County operates and detailed efforts to increase biomass electricity production in central Missouri. The course concluded with a tour of Mizzou’s power plant.
“Seeing the power plant was an amazing experience, and I feel that I can now explain even better how a power plant works because of the tour,” said Knipp, who teaches science to middle school-aged kids.
The idea for the course came from two former educators who are now stalwarts in the electric cooperative world, Stan Varner and Keith Mueller. The duo is well known to kids in Co-Mo Country for the energy efficiency and electric safety classes they teach in area schools.
In return for their attendance and participation, the 23 teachers earned one graduate-school credit free of cost to them. A second credit is available if they complete a project on energy education curriculum assigned by Schumacher.
“After the first day of class I couldn’t wait to go back for the second day,” Knipp said. “The second day proved to be just as informative as the first. This class gave me a better understanding of the whole picture on how cooperatives work hard every day to provide electricity to their members. They are always looking to the future and have the best interest of their members as a priority.”
Teachers do not leave the course with merely knowledge in their heads. They are given a box of instructional materials and experiments to be used in their classrooms.
“Not only will I be able to enhance my electricity unit with the information I received, but now I have the tools to do more hands-on activities,” Knipp said. “Students comprehend concepts better when I can incorporate hands-on activities. I can’t wait to teach my electrical unit in science. It is important for students to understand how we get our electricity, and now I have additional tools to enhance my lesson plans.”
And that’s the whole point, Agliata said.
“We know there’s a very pro-environmental bend to a lot of the instructional material in some of our schools,” he said. “What this course aims to do is show there are different ways of looking at some of these things stated as facts. We know there are people — including some educators — who criticize the manner in which we meet our members’ demand for electricity without understanding the complete picture. So we know we’ve got some work to do. This course is one way in which we hope we can help give a more full picture of reality.”
Co-Mo Electric is planning to sponsor at least three teachers for next year’s course. Teachers who are interested in attending can contact Agliata at (800) 781-0157 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the electric cooperative’s position on energy issues, visit Action.coop.