Dominion Virginia Power has been a long-time supporter of Virginia’s 4-H youth program and this year their outstanding generosity continues with a $25,000 gift in support of educational kits and training funds related to wind and alternative energy. These funds were used to support the Virginia 4-H electric energy curriculum, which consists of seven lesson plans and an energy kit, which contains all of the supplies needed to conduct the lessons with a group of 30 children.
The lessons were designed to satisfy all of Virginia’s 4th grade science standards of learning related to electricity and magnetism by providing hands-on, learn-by-doing activities for children. Virginia 4-H under the leadership of Lori Marsh, Extension engineer, developed the activities and electric kits in the early 1990’s with input from the major electric energy providers in Virginia and support from the Virginia 4-H science programming committee. Since that time, Dominion Power has continued to provide financial support for the program.
Kathleen Jamison, 4-H youth specialist and the Virginia 4-H STEM committee chair, stated that 4-H continues to work in collaboration with school systems and out-of-school time programs across the state to integrate the electric energy curriculum into annual program planning. “We want 4-H Electric Energy Kits to be seen as a staple for educators teaching electricity and magnetism across the state,” said Jamison.
To introduce teachers, 4-H agents, and other adults who work with groups of children to the curriculum, Marsh offers a three-hour interactive workshop in which participants conduct the activities. “Many adults do not have formal training in the principles of electricity and magnetism, and the workshop is an opportunity to learn basic concepts,” said Marsh. Time is also allotted in the workshop for participants to discuss ways in which the curriculum can be used to enhance student scientific Inquiry skills. More than 400 kits have been distributed across the commonwealth and used in both formal (predominately 4th grade classrooms) and informal (after school, home school, and summer camp) settings. “I estimate that well over 100,000 youth in Virginia have used the materials in these kits to learn about electricity and magnetism,” said Marsh.