DVIDS – News – STEAM students participate in Old Hickory Dam’s environmental awareness day – Advice Eating

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (May 5, 2022) – Third grade science, technology, engineering, arts and math students from Union Elementary, Sumner County Magnet School participated in Environmental Awareness Day at Old Hickory Dam.
The group of about 80 children, accompanied by 20 supervisors and five teachers, came early and cheerfully to the tour of the hydroelectric power plant and were divided into three groups, which took turns visiting the power plant, the lock and the playground.
“Here in the Nashville District, we really want to give the kids a unique look at the Corps of Engineer and some of the science and technology that goes on behind the scenes and incorporate that into their education and real-world experiences,” said project manager Captain Brian Sekita.

Old Hickory Powerplant staff and park rangers ensured the kids moved seamlessly from one event to the next and answered any questions they had along the way.
“We have presenters here to help with educational presentations so the kids can learn about the water quality at Old Hickory Lake,” said Emily Johnson, ranger for the natural resource park. “We have participants from the state of Tennessee and the city of Hendersonville here to see what’s happening around the lake.”
The children took part in an outdoor hydropower system lesson in which they viewed a miniature city replica that mimicked varying amounts of rainfall and showed the effects of rain on a city when water management structures were not in place to prevent the free flow of water.
“My favorite part was the little dam because it was fun to see the tiny houses get washed away with water, but I’m sure it’s not that fun when big houses get wet in real life,” said STEAM Student Gunner Kingrey.
David Withers, a biologist with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, explained how salamanders are affected by the environment and their importance to the ecosystem. The children saw live salamanders up close and learned about their carnivorous diet.
STEAM student Liam Sporin said his favorite part of the day was learning about salamanders. “I want to be a marine biologist when I grow up, so I was excited to see amphibians here today,” he said.
Liam, whose father works at the power plant, said he is proud of his father and the hard work he puts in at the power plant.
“I’m so glad my class could come here and see where my dad works. We saw places in the power plant that I hadn’t seen before,” Liam said.
Power Plant Senior Electronics Mechanic Nathan Sporin coordinated the field trip with Union Elementary to give future engineers an insight into how hydropower and STEAM go hand-in-hand.
“As the father of one of the children on this field trip, I am proud to stand with our entire team and show my son the important work we all do every day, the amazing facilities and resources we protect and the incredible people who I work with on a daily basis,” Sporin said.
“It was quite impressive how much these children knew about hydropower and the questions they asked showed a keen interest in the topics we were covering with them,” said civil engineer Gabe Wagner.
Johnson said it’s a great experience to have such a large group visiting facilities in Old Hickory and now that COVID restrictions have changed, she hopes more submitted trips like this will take place soon.
“It’s great that we can do this because as park rangers we don’t typically do what we do here at Old Hickory, our jobs are a little bit different,” Johnson said. “So it’s nice that we can come out and do this and count it as our environmental awareness day.”
The Nashville District hopes to host more STEAM tours in the near future to give students thinking about entering the STEAM career field an insight into potential employment opportunities.
(The public can find news, updates and information from the US Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps, and on Twitter at www.twitter .com/nashvillecorps.)

Date of recording: 05.04.2022
Release Date: 05.11.2022 16:42
Story ID: 420514

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