“From Power Stations to PlayStation” by EirGrid

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Overall project context: 

EirGrid has identified that it is important to raise overall interest in and knowledge of the electricity system as this helps encourage a greater understanding of electricity’s functionality and the role of the transmission system in meeting electricity demand. 
EirGrid has recognised the value in taking the time to share information and knowledge with school-age students across Ireland and Northern Ireland. 
The EirGrid school science programme – From Power Station to Playstation® - engages with schools, students and teachers to provide assistance in preparing junior cycle students for science experiments in their curriculum. 
In 2012, the programme was delivered to almost 3,000 students and 60 teachers in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The programme consists of an interactive show composed of live experiments, animations (Ohm’s Law, Conductors & Insulators, etc) and demonstrations supported by audience participation. 
The experiments and activities are delivered by EirGrid staff, and there is a focus on the real life application of the “STEM” subjects relevant to the curriculum. EirGrid intends continuing to develop the programme, with further events planned in 2014.

Description of relevant activities: 

EirGrid has created an interactive science programme for junior cycle (“middle school”) students in Ireland. This programme is shown at many different venues around the country and consists of an exhibition of electricity related experiments and a 45 minute show presented by EirGrid engineers. At any one show, several hundred students from different schools may attend, accompanied by teachers. This initiative is not tied to a single project, but is rather a general educational initiative undertaken by EirGrid. The educational content of the programme also tries to inform the Irish youth about the importance of the activities EirGrid undertakes and the opportunities the transmission system presents for the region, the country and Europe.

What worked well: 

As a travelling show, the project has engaged with students (and indirectly parents, teachers and other stakeholders) in a number of different locations across the country. The fast pace and interactive nature of the show appeals to the students who are learning while having fun. EirGrid has received a lot of positive feedback and recognition of this programme.

Key content provided: 

The “Understanding Electricity - From Power Station to PlayStation” initiative provides general technical information related to energy, electricity, electromagnetism, renewable energy, and transmission. This is coordinated with students’ science curriculum, providing a hands-on experience to complement their textbook and classroom learning.

Other key stakeholders involved: 

Intel, one of EirGrid’s largest customers, and one that purchases bulk electricity directly from the transmission grid, has also participated in the initiative, providing venue and additional educational opportunities to the participating students.

Teachers and school administrators can be voices in local communities. By reaching out to these groups and providing a no-cost educational experience to their students, EirGrid has succeeded in providing stakeholders with a contribution which is valuable to all parties involved. Since the initiative covers a significant part of the Irish territory, it is likely that the addressees of the initiative would be part of or be aware of the debate on grid infrastructure. Additionally the enduring nature of the relationship with teachers who partake in the event results in continued sharing of this knowledge with many more children. 

Key communications channels used: 

The show is typically presented in a rented or granted venue (typically an amphitheatre or other setting), with the ability to welcome several hundred students at a time. Using such a large venue allows the organisers to reach more students for each production of the show.

Key communications formats used: 

The show is a sort of Exhibition, travelling from one location to the next, and is by its nature an interactive event. Students participate in hands-on experiments to better understand the principles of electricity and to gain a better appreciation for the effort made to ensure a sustainable supply of energy. 

Transferability to other Member States: 

In principle, this practice is transferrable to any and all other Member States. It may be particularly useful in locations where there is entrenched scepticism of grid projects and where the project developers need to improve their overall image. As this approach is not linked to any single project, it should be used in addition to other more specific measures.