Puget Sound Energy’s Paul Leonetti explains how wind energy works to fifth-graders at Daniel Elementary School on Nov. 8. The demonstration was part of PSE’s visit to the East Hill school, coinciding with National STEM Day. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter.

Puget Sound Energy’s Paul Leonetti explains how wind energy works to fifth-graders at Daniel Elementary School on Nov. 8. The demonstration was part of PSE’s visit to the East Hill school, coinciding with National STEM Day. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter.

Kids plug into the possibilities of renewable energy

PSE gives Daniel fifth-graders a glance at power, career paths on National STEM Day

Excited about math and science, young Victor Flores very much wants to be an engineer someday.

“I want to build things and help people who need new stuff, new cars and new homes,” the Daniel Elementary fifth-grader said. “And you need energy. Today, I learned how energy can help.”

Flores and his classmates were front and center last week as Puget Sound Energy representatives visited the East Hill school to talk about the wonders of energy and its many possibilities, including the different job opportunities the industry will present for generations to come.

Under the sun on a chilly morning outside the school, PSE staff took time to explain renewable and sustainable energy sources and led engaging demonstrations. Students also got a first-hand look at PSE’s new Electric Grid Trailer, a mobile, interactive vehicle that includes solar panels, a wireless charging station and hands-on activities. The trailer, as PSE energy efficiency expert Amanda Hoffman explained, is a one-stop shop to teach students how energy is harnessed in their own back yard.

PSE’s visit on Nov. 8 coincided with National STEM Day – a show-and-tell celebration meant to inspire kids to explore and pursue their interests in science, technology, engineering and math.

The interactive activities are designed to get kids thinking about STEM-related careers in renewable energy.

“We were proud to participate in National STEM Day by visiting George T. Daniel Elementary,” said Janet Kim, PSE spokeswoman. “With our smart grid trailer as a backdrop, we were able to share information about energy efficiency, renewable energy, electric cars and smart grid with students who were clearly engaged and excited about STEM education and career opportunities. Children are our future and seeing their enthusiasm gave me confidence that the future looks bright.”

As PSE pointed out, Daniel’s fifth-graders will be eligible to enter the workforce in 2026.

For a small, inquisitive girl, Candice Le has big dreams. Good at math and science, she wants to learn more so one day she can become a physical therapist who works with autistic children.

“We learned more ways to save electricity and figured out new ways to save energy by using the natural environment such as the sun and wind,” Le said.

It’s never too early to introduce STEM futures for students, especially at Daniel Elementary, which has among the highest diverse, ethnic and refugee enrollments in the Kent School District, with about half of its students learning English.

“It’s about exposure and opportunity,” Principal Patty Drobny said of the PSE pitch. “It’s a matter of them being exposed to what kinds of opportunities could they have. Our kids know sports, but they don’t necessarily know the careers that they can get into … the technology.”

About 20 percent of today’s jobs require some level of STEM background, according to the National Science Board, and helping youth develop the skills is critical to individual, community and national economic success.

STEM jobs are growing faster than any other U.S. occupation and what local schools are doing to prepare their students for futures in those fields.

The future of STEM jobs in Washington state looks bright, especially in the energy efficiency arena. Washington has more energy efficiency jobs than any other state in the country, according to the U.S. Energy and Employment. Available jobs in the field are set to increase 17 percent between now and 2024, while non-STEM employment will grow just 12 percent.


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Puget Sound Energy’s Alex Seidel describes and demonstrates energy efficiency as it pertains to lighting to fifth-graders at Daniel Elementary School on Nov. 8. The demonstration was part of PSE’s visit to the East Hill school, coinciding with National STEM Day. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter.

Puget Sound Energy’s Alex Seidel describes and demonstrates energy efficiency as it pertains to lighting to fifth-graders at Daniel Elementary School on Nov. 8. The demonstration was part of PSE’s visit to the East Hill school, coinciding with National STEM Day. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter.

PSE energy efficiency expert Amanda Hoffman shows how the smart grid works in front of PSE’s new Electric Grid Trailer, a mobile, interactive vehicle that includes solar panels, a wireless charging station and hands-on activities. PSE visited fifth-graders at Daniel Elementary School on Nov. 8, National STEM Day. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter.

PSE energy efficiency expert Amanda Hoffman shows how the smart grid works in front of PSE’s new Electric Grid Trailer, a mobile, interactive vehicle that includes solar panels, a wireless charging station and hands-on activities. PSE visited fifth-graders at Daniel Elementary School on Nov. 8, National STEM Day. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter.

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