Each year, Infinite Energy gives grants to schools in Gwinnett County, Georgia, because we believe in giving back to the communities we serve. We feel supporting education is the best way to give back. And we believe it’s important to help support projects in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM).
This week, we caught up with teacher Kristie C., of Harbins Elementary School, to get the lowdown on a project we helped fund called Making STEAM a Hair-raising Experience.
“We’re a few weeks into school now, and we’re having the best time with our Van de Graaff generator!” Kristie said, speaking of the device the school bought with part of the $900 grant.
Van de Graaff generators make static electricity using a rotating belt and a hollow metal sphere. Kristie has been using the generator and a similar device also bought with the grant called a Wimhurst machine as learning aids.
She’s using the devices in a series of week-long science demonstrations for students in kindergarten through 5th grade. These static electricity generators are helping her teach lessons on the scientific method, facts about weather and its patterns, engineering and even art. The week’s lesson culminates with something she calls Lightning Friday.
“I end the demonstration by standing on an insulated base and taking the charges from the Van de Graaff generator onto myself and seeing the effects that I can have on certain objects. I point at florescent lights, and they hum. I make a metal top spin. I make a small light glow. And at the end, I send rice cereal scattering across the students seated in the front row,” she said. “It leaves them squealing in delight—all while my hair is literally standing on end. My favorite is when the students eagerly remind me that ‘it’s not magic. It’s science.’”
At Infinite Energy, we know science CAN be magic, especially when teachers make it so much fun. Stay tuned in the weeks ahead for more on this year’s Infinite Energy STEAM school projects.