‘Electricity Rocks’ Tennessee 4-H’ers at 2009 Electric Camp

4-H ELECTRIC CAMP-Pictured are Bobby Crowder, Tri-County Electric employee, Keith Allen, 4-H Extension Agent, and students from the Tri-County Electric service area who attended the 2009 4-H Electric Camp. (Photo submitted)

4-H ELECTRIC CAMP-Pictured are Bobby Crowder, Tri-County Electric employee, Keith Allen, 4-H Extension Agent, and students from the Tri-County Electric service area who attended the 2009 4-H Electric Camp. (Photo submitted)

A group of enthusiastic 4-H’ers from the Tri-County Electric service area traveled to the University of Tennessee June 23-26 to attend the 2009 4-H Electric Camp, an annual event bringing hundreds of seventh and eighth grade students from across Tennessee to the Knoxville campus each summer to learn about electricity.

These 4-H’ers were among 270 youth representing counties across the state who explored energy, electricity and the basic sciences through fun-filled, hands-on learning centers led by electric cooperative employees and representatives from other utility companies. This year’s camp, themed “Electricity Rocks,” featured six interactive learning centers:

• Wiring an Extension Cord-This learning center taught the basic wiring techniques that are used by electricians every day. Students demonstrated what they learned by wiring up extension cords, which they take with them to use in their homes.

• Energy-Vampire Slayers-In this activity, campers learned how to find and “slay” the “energy vampires” in their homes to conserve energy and save money on energy bills.

• Electric Motors-Motors convert electricity into useful work, and this learning center explained the different parts of an electric motor and how electromagnetism makes a motor turn. Students also put to use what they learned and built their own electric motors.

• Robotic Arms-Robots, once only seen in science fiction movies, are now used to do many daily tasks. Campers saw the latest robot technology, and then each tried his or her hand at controlling a robotic arm.

• Electric Vehicles-The 4-H’ers learned about batteries, direct current and how it is used to propel electric vehicles and demonstrated their driving skills by maneuvering an electric golf cart through an obstacle course.

• Electrical Safety-Electric power does a tremendous amount of work for us, but because it is such a powerful force, we must be careful around it. This learning center taught campers how to play it safe around high-voltage power lines.

In addition to the learning centers, the camp also featured other educational activities such as “Dr. Mike’s Science Laboratory” presented by Dr. Mike Buschermohle, a professor with UT Extension, and “Watt is Electricity?” by Science Zone presenter Ben Roy. The campers also spent a fun-filled afternoon at Dollywood theme park in nearby Pigeon Forge.

“The focus of the 4-H Electric Camp is to improve young people’s knowledge of electricity, energy conservation, alternative energy sources, electronics, computer applications and electrical safety,” said Buschermohle. “Campers develop a better understanding of the important role electricity plays in their lives — plus they have a lot of fun and get to make many new friends from across the state.”

4-H Electric Camp is made possible through a unique partnership of UT Extension, the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and its member cooperatives like Tri-County Electric, the systems of the Tennessee Municipal Electric Power, the Tennessee Valley Authority and other industry donors.

“4-H Electric Camp is special because it utilizes fun, hands-on activities to teach students about science, electricity and safety,” said Paul Thompson. “We’re proud of our partnership with utilities across Tennessee to offer this valuable learning opportunity to young people from our service area.”