University of Illinois STEM educators have created classroom activities that allow students to conceptually explore topics in electricity. The workshop activities include assembling a breakout board that models a simplified power system for a small neighborhood. The circuit prototype responds to an outage and redirects the flow of power. Participants explore the components and characteristics of simple circuits, logic gates, and relays. They also engage in an energy delivery themed, escape room style activity developed by educators at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with support from the US Department of Energy. This virtual environment presents a fictional, but based on real events, cascading blackout scenario and challenges players to find the cause. Participants analyze data from the blackout, determine what went wrong, and propose strategies to prevent another such event in the future. Time will be allotted for debriefing and sharing ideas for classroom implementation.
The US power grid is the system of producers and consumers of electricity. It includes power generators, switches, substations, miles of power lines, and millions of transformers. The power grid is continually evolving as we integrate alternative power resources and invent technologies.
Lara Hebert (Assistant Director, Engineering Public Engagement: Urbana, IL), Jana Sebestik (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Champaign, IL)