CHARLESTOWN – On a 4-by-4 platform, Charlestown High School students will develop a mock Guatemalan town with a real source of energy that can provide electricity.

This is all part of a new partnership between the school and Clark County REMC and Indiana University, in Bloomington.

“It’s like a reverse internship. So, we get to bring that experience to them,” said Brian Omerso, manager of marketing for Clark County REMC. “They’re going to build scale models of what this village looks like, but it’s a village that doesn’t have power. So, we’re going to talk through the engineering, the math, the science principles of what it would be like to bring power to that community.”

This project mirrors a real project Clark County REMC does.

“That’s a project called Project Indiana. Since 2012, every couple of years, our linemen as well as linemen from the state of Indiana head to Guatemala and they bring electricity to villages that don’t have any,” Omerso said. “[We’re] showing the students that this is the kind of impact you can have on your community and the world.”

Charlie Fraley, CHS academy coach, said four classes will work with an expert from REMC weekly for the semester. The classes will each have a certain focus: geometry class will work on deciding how many power poles to install and where, introduction to engineering will build the platform, information technology will design the switches and work on a system where they can monitor power outages from an outside location and the principals of engineering class will develop a working power source that will power a LED bulb.

“We always want to give students authentic learning opportunities,” Fraley said. “They will gain so much more from hands on activities than they will from worksheets and videos.”

“It’s exactly what we want, as project-based learning. Truly, real-world experience for them and having those professionals here at school, where they can interact, ask questions, help understand the way problems really work in the workforce,” said Julie Straight, academy and CTE coordinator for Greater Clark County Schools.

Straight is confident the students will figure out how to power the project.

“I’m sure they will surprise the adults at what they come up with,” Straight said. “Their brains are always a little more open than ours are and they don’t have limitations.”

“I think we can do it,” said 15-year-old Trinity Murphy. “There’s enough of us. I think we’re all pretty intelligent when we put our brains together.”

Senior Peyton Teepe is in the final group, which will power the model.

“Our job is to get it to light up, so it’s kind of stressful for us,” Teepe said. “I think it’ll take a while, but I’m sure we will be able to [do it].”

Omerso said 26 percent of employees with REMC and their co-ops are expected to retire within 10 years, leaving a large amount of jobs needing to be filled. He said he hopes this project helps inspire some students to pursue jobs in energy.

Senior Jacob Hartsfield is one of the students participating in the project and he hopes this opens doors to a future career.

“I’m excited to learn a new trade,” he said.

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