Monday, May 5, 2014

Education Station Complete



On Wednesday, April 30th, Topeka Public Schools and Westar Energy celebrated the completion of Education Station. The brightly colored substation is designed to be a tool for educators to help teach students about where their electricity comes from and encourage students to pursue careers in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, while at the same time serve as a working substation to help strengthen Topeka’s electric system. Education Station will allow Westar to retire five World War II-era substations.


Paint colors help identify key parts of the substation, including transformers and switches. For safety reasons, the public is not able to enter the substation; however, a pavilion that overlooks the substation provides an excellent view of the equipment and is large enough to accommodate an entire class of students. Signs around the substation explain how the various pieces of equipment work.


The partnership doesn’t end with the Education Station. In collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency and Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Westar donated the wind turbine located near the substation so that students will be able to closely study renewable energy. Future plans include the installation of solar panels and geo-thermal systems for educating students on those renewable energy sources. Westar’s Green Team is also working to restore a 30-acre tallgrass prairie as some TPS classes document changes to both vegetation and wildlife. 


Topeka Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Julie Ford said “(We) could not be more excited about the opportunities that students and families in our community will have to learn about electricity and future jobs through visiting Education Station. It will be a destination for field trips and families will enjoy a walk in our beautiful Kanza Education and Science Park. Our partnerships with Westar continue to give students opportunities to focus on science, math and future employment skills needed to be successful.”
Larry Robbins, TPS deputy superintendent of operations, agreed. “Topeka Public Schools is extremely grateful to Westar Energy for a partnership that is resulting in a multi-acre outdoor classroom which provides our students a unique educational opportunity that cannot be experienced anywhere else in this region of the United States. Education Station will serve as the foundation cornerstone of our Kanza Education and Science Park, a site which we envision becoming a destination for many across the state of Kansas.”