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Centertown students enjoy powerful day of information
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Centertown student Haley Brown watches her hair rise while touching a Van de Graff Machine.
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Centertown students, from left, Rylon Smartt and Caroline Boyd watch as Caney Fork energy advisor Dale Stauffacher shows how electricity can travel from a power line to a metal poll with the utility's Power City model.

Centertown students were treated to a hair-raising lesson about electricity on Monday courtesy of Caney Fork Electric.

Haley Brown was one of the student volunteers to touch a Van de Graff Machine, which generates an electric charge capable of making your hair rise.

Having electricity available at your fingertips to turn on a light or power a TV is a great luxury. But it does come with a cost.

“I probably don’t want to know the answer to this, but how many of your parents have called to complain because you have a high electric bill?” asked Caney Fork energy advisor Dale Stauffacher to a group of fifth-graders.

Stauffacher explained that he and fellow energy advisor Chris Mullican will come investigate the problem.

“We’re like Sherlock Holmes. We will come in and work to find the problem,” said Stauffacher. “Do you have an Xbox that stays on all the time? That could be part of the problem.”

One student raised his hand and asked if a problem three miles away can cause power to go out at his house. Mullican said that was an excellent question.

“Electricity travels along a circuit so if something happens along that circuit it can impact everything else down the line,” said Mullican. 

Students were told electricity travels at 186,000 miles per second, which is fast enough to travel around the earth seven times. Most homes operate on 240 volts of electricity, which means substations are used to reduce voltage for residential use.

“Substations can either step up or step down voltage,” said Mullican.

Fifth-grader Rylon Smartt was asked what he learned from the presentation.

“I like to climb trees a lot, but I was told never to try and climb on a substation,” said Rylon in reciting a great piece of advice for everyone to remember.

Caroline Boyd, also a fifth-grader, said she learned how electricity can travel in water. Caney Fork employees warned students to avoid the water if they see a downed power line while they are boating.

“I thought it would be best to get away by jumping in the water but it’s not,” said Caroline.

The presentation can be modified for grades K-12 and is also informative for adults, Mullican noted.