Power is a mystery. You can’t see it; you can’t touch it. But when you flip a light switch, you expect the room to glow.
To uncover the mystery of electricity, Duke Energy’s Barbara Martinuzzi had a bright idea – invite Citrus County, Fla., fifth-graders to the Crystal River Energy Complex and show them how Duke Energy generates electricity for its 1.7 million Florida customers.
“Fifth-graders learn about different types of energy in their science classes,” said Martinuzzi, who lives in Citrus County. “So we designed a field trip program to supplement that curriculum and get the students more interested in science, technology, engineering and math.”
STEM is an important education focus for Duke Energy.
“It all connects to the standards of what they’re learning,” said Scott Hebert, Citrus County’s elementary education director. “Coming here is an opportunity for (the students) to see that it’s real. It’s not just something they read in a textbook.”
The program launched in September 2015, and the energy complex has hosted more than 600 fifth-graders, including Josie Maglio, a student at Homosassa Elementary School.
“I find a lot of science stuff exciting, especially when it’s hands-on, and you get to see what they’re actually doing every day,” she said. Josie’s biggest surprise? Learning what’s billowing from the 601-foot-tall pollution-control stack and two cooling towers. “It’s not pollution; it’s actually water vapor,” she said.
Duke Energy is organizing and sponsoring the field trips, including $12,000 provided to the Citrus County Education Foundation for transportation.
“We care about the people in our community,” said Martinuzzi. “They are our friends, our neighbors, our relatives. We have a connection to them. We have a lot of good things we’re doing out here, and we want to share that message with students, parents and educators.”