New Partnership Brings Energy Education to Students in Harnett County

Teachers posing for a photo outdoors in front of a sign.

A new partnership between North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, South River EMC and Harnett County Schools, in conjunction with RTI International, is introducing elementary school students to electricity and energy usage through project-based learning.

Teachers posing for a photo outdoors in front of a sign.

Teachers from South Harnett Elementary School at the Butler Farms Microgrid.

Through this partnership, students at South Harnett Elementary School will have the opportunity to learn about energy and renewable resources through real-world lessons and hands-on projects involving an innovative resource located right in their community: the Butler Farms microgrid project developed by South River EMC, Butler Farms and North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives.

To kick start the planning, a group of South Harnett Elementary teachers spent two days in late July learning about electric cooperatives, the Butler Farms microgrid and various sources of energy, including nuclear, hydro and solar. They explored ways to incorporate these topics into their lessons about energy using the project-based learning teaching method in conjunction with resources available through the microgrid and expertise from North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives and South River EMC.

Two teachers looking at a drawing.

South Harnett Elementary Teachers taking turns teaching each other about various forms of energy.

During the planning session, the group traveled to the microgrid where John Lemire, director of transmission resources for North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, gave a tour of the farm and microgrid, and provided an overview of how it can be used to power not only the farm, but also surrounding homes.

Teachers sit in chairs while listening to a presentation.

John Lemire; far right, gives an overview of the Butler Farms Microgrid to the teachers before they begin their tour of the site.

Back at the school, the teachers were able to ask industry experts from South River EMC questions about energy conservation and electricity. They then took the information they had learned and began planning lessons that will be implemented in the 2019-2020 school year. Based on the lessons developed, the students may also have the opportunity to tour the farm and microgrid.

Teachers sitting at a long table in a school library.

Teachers from South Harnett Elementary School discuss methods for incorporating resources from the Butler Farms microgrid and South River EMC in their energy-focused project-based learning lessons. 

The long-term goal of the Harnett County partnership is to get students engaged and interested in energy at a young age, resulting in concepts that stay with them as they progress into middle school. For more information on our other community and education partnerships, visit the In the Community section of our website.