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Kids learn electrical safety with BC Hydro school programs

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Teachers ask that electrical safety be worked into program content

If there's one thing common to all children, it's curiosity. The urge to discover how things work, that drive to explore the unknown, is to be celebrated.

But children have to learn how to be safe. We have to teach them that cars and trucks and electrical outlets can be dangerous. And as the utility that provides electricity to so much of the province, BC Hydro takes responsibility for helping to deliver that safety message.

"We use electricity every day," says BC Hydro's Mary Ferguson. There are potentially hazardous situations everywhere.

Overhead lines are dangerous to kite flyers. Residential transformer boxes on the ground can be obstacles to kids playing hide-and-seek. Toasters and appliances in the kitchen must be used properly and with safety in mind.

Luckily, young children in particular want to do the right thing, says Mary, one of the people who coordinates BC Hydro's school programs.

"Kids take learning seriously," she says. "We teach electrical safety in the context of understanding how we get our electricity and how we use it."

Developed for every age of student, from early childhood and kindergarten to high school, the programs offered by BC Hydro are created to support the curriculum and learning outcomes set out by the Ministry of Education. And teachers at all levels, says Mary, have asked that safety be embedded in the electricity context.

An outdoor activity included in one resource kit for teachers helps kindergarten students learn the "look, but don't touch" rule. The flash cards pictured here are used in games that directly teach safety lessons.

These activities help teach the "Safety and injury prevention" module established by the Ministry.

Safety messages are always presented in context. Grade 6 students, for example, learn how electrical circuits work, and also learn to think ahead. That forward planning, says Mary, is both prudent for safety but it's also part of the scientific method.

High school students take things a step further with more sophisticated lessons about electricity and safety.

What children learn in the later years, says Mary, is built on what they've learned previously. "It scaffolds," she says.