Interactive Lessons for Pre-University Power Education

Tate, J. E., Overbye, T. J., Sebestik, J., Reese, G. C.

IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, vol.23, no.3, pp.824,830, Aug. 2008.

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A key need facing the electric power industry is the ongoing requirement to develop its future workforce. While university education is a crucial step in this process, studies have shown that many promising students are unaware of possible careers in the power industry. Many also lose interest in math and science during their high school and even middle school years. This paper presents lesson plans and associated applets designed to help address these needs, developed as a collaboration between electric power researchers and education specialists. Thus far, two units have been developed to engage pre-university students in the power area. The first unit, Power and Energy in the Home, serves as an introduction to the concepts of power and energy and provides many sample loads to illustrate the impacts of running different appliances. Special attention is paid to environmental issues by the inclusion of Energy Star appliances along with incandescent and compact fluorescent lighting. The second unit, titled The Power Grid, aims to inform students about the macroscopic picture of how energy gets from generators to loads. Many different generation technologies are included, along with external system connections to demonstrate how power is imported and exported. Discussion of line overloading, and how networks can be both beneficial and detrimental depending on circumstances, are facilitated by features built into the applet and provided in the lesson plans. The materials have been distributed to students and educators, many of whom have provided valuable feedback.

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