Full STEAM ahead

Mr. Duke in front of a Coastal Electric Cooperative utility truck with children and teacher looking on
Coastal Electric Cooperative Line Supervisor Ken Duke (left) talks with students during the Joseph Martin Elementary School Career Day on Wheels.

Spring in Georgia typically means high pollen counts, a range of weather, and holiday celebrations. For co-ops who love to invest in their communities, it also means lots of school events.

A range of Coastal Electric Cooperative employees get the chance to represent the co-op to our “mini” members, from linemen who show off tools and bucket trucks at career days to the safety staff’s Safety City show teaching electrical safety and IT professionals guiding students in making their own lightsabers (simple circuits projecting LEDs through milkshake straws).

Perhaps the most significant school event this spring was Richmond Hill Middle School’s very first STEAM Fest in March, featuring student-engineered and student-operated drones, under- water remotely operated vehicles, and electric vehicles (EVs). STEAM refers to learning that incorporates science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

As part of STEAM Fest, Coastal Electric sponsored an EV rally in which students drove electric vehicles they built themselves—three of which were donated by co-op members through the Coastal Electric Cooperative Foundation.

Coastal Electric members who participate in Operation Round Up allow their electric bills to be rounded up to the next whole dollar each month. Those nickels and dimes are pooled together and invested back into the local community through the Coastal Electric Cooperative Foundation. Together, that small change makes a big difference.

Two of the same EV kits that were used at Richmond Hill Middle will soon be delivered to Liberty County middle schools.

“It’s our hope that more schools in the area will delve into learning about EV engineering, and that other electric co-ops in Georgia will donate EV kits to schools in their own communities,” says Jason Smith, Coastal Electric Cooperative energy adviser. “We’d love to see more teams compete in the STEAM Fest rally next year.”