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4th-Graders Learn First-Hand about Advances in Electrical Power Quality & Energy Management

(Warrendale, PA) Nearly 400 Pine-Richland School District fourth-graders, who are studying electricity, had the opportunity to visit the Eaton Corporation’s Experience Center on Nov. 26, 2019, and to see a local powerhouse training facility in action, along with 15 teachers and three administrators, as they tackle a science unit on electricity.

Eaton Leading the tour and first-hand look was Center Manager Dan Carnovale. In addition, Power Systems Engineer Lisa Carnovale and Product Line Manager Lanson Relyea also assisted with the tour with other representatives from Eaton. The Carnovales are Pine-Richland community members.

The Eaton Power Systems Experience Center, which is located in Warrendale, PA, is a full-scale demonstration and testing facility. Visitors can see first-hand the latest advances in electrical power quality, energy management, and safety. In this controlled environment, visitors observe product testing and performance, participate in live demonstrations and training courses, and learn about power management technologies from Eaton experts. The center’s goal is to help take the mystery out of electrical power systems spanning from utility substation equipment to the receptacle in your home, making them come to life.

“The ideal field trip is one that directly connects to the curriculum and allows students to experience the real-life application,” said Dr. Kristen Justus, assistant superintendent of elementary education and curriculum. “This experience was perfect. We hope that the teachers can use the virtual tour to further reinforce some of the key concepts. The other great strategic connection is the broad topic of sustainability. We are hopeful for some deep learning connections to improve behavior around energy use.”

The visit was part of the Education Corporate Partnership (ECP) for STEM Learning established through the PA Department of Labor & Industry through grants awarded to educational units across the U.S. including the Allegheny Intermediate Unit.

The grants pave the way for an innovative approach to partnerships between school districts and businesses. The goal of ECP is to enable K‐12 educators to better understand the requirements of the modern workplace, and how to address these needs in their classrooms so students are better prepared for STEM-related college majors and careers.

The program consists of a total of six days that includes a day-long immersive corporate visit, touchpoints with the corporate partners, and a day of final presentations. The program brokers authentic partnerships between local corporations and school districts that meet the needs unique to each constituent.

During the 2018-2019 school year, a PR team of educators which included Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Michael Pasquinelli and Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education Kristen Justus and teacher representatives from the K-12 grade span visited the corporate site and met with a variety of different employees. The visit helped showcase a variety of STEM careers, an understanding of what Eaton is as a business, and the characteristics corporations like Eaton are looking for in future job candidates. During the visit, the team was able to visit the Eaton Experience Center which allows visitors to see how Eaton’s products help manage electrical power quality, energy management, and safety through live demonstrations.  Because of that visit and the ongoing collaboration with Eaton to design meaningful learning experiences K-12 which are anchored into the curriculum, state standards, and desired critical skills for our PR graduates, the district incorporated this field experience for 4th grade students to inspire possible career paths and offer a real-world connection to the science standards in grade 4 around electricity and energy.

Eaton Electrical has been working with PR to create a comprehensive plan that will help PR students benefit from this partnership in all grades K to 12. The plan centers on the theme of “Sustainability” and in the following areas of study:

  • The plan promotes the understanding of the Engineering and Design Process at the K-3 level that aligns with our grade-level curriculum and provides cross-curricular authentic learning experiences related to sustainability. 
  • Using equipment provided by Eaton, students at our upper elementary school, grades 4-6, will be able to study the electrical consumption at one of our buildings and work to identify ways to reduce that consumption. Students at our high school will help to analyze what we believe will be a complex, extensive data set the data gathered, and create a website displaying our progress and results. All with the help and guidance of the Eaton team.
  • Additionally Engineering and Technology students in our middle school will participate in a design challenge with requirements set by Eaton engineers.  Eaton will then partner with PR teachers in providing feedback to the students. 

 Of note, Richland Elementary Third-Grade Teacher Elizabeth Grover represented Allegheny County in Harrisburg, where she spoke about the ECP program during Governor Tom Wolf’s Teacher in the Workplace news conference on April 10, 2019.

 “These experiences will provide our students with authentic STEM learning challenges at all grade levels,” said Teacher Elizabeth Grover. “We want our students to experience the teamwork we witnessed at Eaton, and have an opportunity to practice essential workplace skills such as problem-solving, presentation, and collaboration.”

This initiative aligns with our district’s 4-year strategic plan.  The learning experiences anticipated from next year’s implementation will be used to improve our STEAM integration for all teachers and students in the years to come through a continued partnership with Eaton along with other corporations. This partnership is being highlighted at the upcoming Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Standards Aligned System (SAS) Institute being held on December 8th through 11th in Hershey. Members from the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, who coordinated the Educators Corporations Partnership experience, as well as Mr. Relyea and Dr. Justus will be among the speakers for a session focused on partnerships for STEM learning and teachers in the workplace, to bridge the gap between K-12 education and eventual employers.

Eaton Corporation is a diversified power management company operating that operates through various segments, including Electrical Products, Electrical Systems and Services, Hydraulics, Aerospace, Vehicle, and most recently, eMobility.