Kids Get Into Energy

Photos by Janet Rogers, Strategic Marketing and Communications

Fifth annual camp hopes to inspire STEM careers in youth

Twenty-five local middle and high school students spent a few days building motors, creating electricity and designing wind turbines – all in the name of energy.

Driven by a need for more job-ready candidates in power and energy fields, KCP&L, the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s School of Computing and Engineering, and the KC STEM Alliance teamed up to offer the three-day Get Into Energy camp June 17 – 19 at KC – EZ, the Kansas City Engineering Zone on the UMKC campus at 4825 Troost Ave.

Students and faculty from SCE worked with the younger students on interactive experiments involving magnetism, physics and electricity. To learn about potential and kinetic energy, students raced marbles from different angles and distances. To study the flow of electrons, students built simple circuits from a kit. In the area of renewable energy, campers designed and built mini wind turbine towers and motors. The goal of this experiment was to have the highest energy output from the turbines.

“I want to be an engineer,” said Ellie, 11. She said the camp allowed her to conduct experiments in a fun environment and learn more about engineering careers.

Olivia, 12, was hooked by the sustainability aspect of the camp. She wants a job where she can help reduce pollution. Until the camp, Olivia didn’t know engineers worked on energy-efficient projects.

Tristin, 17, designed the most efficient wind turbine. He was pleased with the turbine’s performance, which was based on an airplane propeller.

Camp sponsors hope to inspire young people to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields, and in turn build a robust, diverse workforce for the region. On the last day of camp, KCP&L employees conducted field trips to a local substation and the Business & Technology College Lineworker Program to show how science is applied in the real world.

“The UMKC School of Computing and Engineering is committed to being a valued resource for Kansas City and in particular to its urban students,” said SCE Dean Kevin Truman. “Exposing urban students to STEM opportunities, careers and challenges on a regular basis is key to preparing them to pursue STEM degrees and jobs. We know that with support and resources, from groups such as the KC STEM Alliance, educational institutions such as UMKC and corporations like KCP&L, we can make a difference in the lives of many students and ultimately help produce a diverse workforce for Kansas City’s STEM based companies.”

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