Electrical Safety Day maze | BCHydro Power Smart for Schools
Immersive maze activity creates a stir at Marion Schilling Elementary School in Kamloops.

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Electrical Safety Day maze a hit at Kamloops school

May 31, 2019

5 min read

Immersive maze activity creates a stir at Marion Schilling Elementary School in Kamloops.

Pop-up maze a cool adventure for Electrical Safety Day 2019

As important as electrical safety education is, it’s not easy to grab the attention of students, even if it’s information that could save their lives.

Two years ago on Electrical Safety Day, BC Hydro brought an electrical accident survivor into a high school classroom for an emotional talk about how 12,000 volts surged through his body and exited through an arm that still bears the ugly scar of the incident. Last year, safety day included visits by a bright orange school bus demonstrating just how far – 10 metres – you need to be away to be safe from a downed power line.  

But this year’s Electrical Safety Day event – a pop-up maze with key electrical safety messaging – set a new standard for engagement at Marion Schilling Elementary School in Kamloops.

“It was awesome,” said Schilling Principal Gordon Cumming after watching six classes – plus a bunch of inquisitive parents – navigate the maze set up on the school’s outdoor basketball court on May 16. “I was really impressed how the maze created a mystique about it all. What’s around the next corner? And am I going to know the answer to the next question? The walls of the maze are just high enough to tease you that you were really lost in it.”

As students found their way through the maze, they encountered questions around four main safety themes and messages:

1. Motor vehicle accident involving a power pole and a downed power line

Students saw an illustration of a crashed vehicle with a car door opened. From a stool that represented the height of the car’s interior, they learned to jump (feet together) clear of the vehicle and then shuffle (always ensuring their feet touched one another) until they were 10 metres clear of electrical danger, represented by an illustration of a 10-metre-long bus.

2. Recognize the danger of a downed power line

Hammering home BC Hydro’s “Down. Danger. Dial.” messaging, students learned about how to recognize that even without a power pole being broken, a downed or sagging line has to be considered live and dangerous. You need to be at least 10 metres away – represented by a line of three Mini Cooper vehicles – before calling 911 to report the incident.

3. Be aware of power lines and your surroundings

If something you're playing with, like a balloon, or a kite, gets stuck in a power line, don't try to retrieve it. Don’t fly kites anywhere near power lines, and for backyard trampolines, be sure to locate them so that anyone using them is always at least three metres clear of any power line.

4. Never climb trees near power lines, and don’t work close to power lines

Vital messages about backyard pruning (a key message for parents) and how climbing a tree – or a power pole or transmission tower – can be deadly.

Taking the kids out of the classroom makes messages stick

BC Hydro program specialist Barney Mayer hears about it all the time from teachers: an experience outside the classroom can dramatically increase engagement.

“That’s just the the way learning is going,” says Mayer, who was in Kamloops as part of the BC Hydro team. “Teachers tell us students get more out of this type of experience than they do just sitting in a classroom reading a book and writing something down. These safety messages will stick with you longer than something you got from a book or even watching it on TV.”

Schilling Principal Cumming agrees.

“Anything that kids can do hands-on, where they can get out of the classroom, something different to engage with, is going to be better,” he said. “I would have this program back in a moment, because it’s a different environment and they get to go outside.”

Not surprisingly, the younger kids at Schilling – in Grades 4 and 5 – seemed to enjoy the maze the most. But even the hard-to-impress Grade 6s and 7s felt the time they spent in the maze was worthwhile.

“It is a very tricky age to get them to buy into something like that,” said Cumming of the older kids. "They may have found the maze a little simplistic for them, but they absolutely loved getting the bright orange little cinch bag at the end. They were more than happy that they had participated.”

Cumming added that he was blown away by everyone he dealt with from BC Hydro, from the initial call he got, to the way the maze was set up and the team’s interactions with the kids.

“As a principal, you’re always wondering how much time and effort is this going to add to your already busy schedule,” he said. “But everyone  from BC Hydro who came here was just so professional, friendly to the kids, and I didn’t have one single complaint from anybody.”

Grab your students' attention when it comes to safety

Here are three ways to keep safety top of mind in your classroom:

1. Participate in Electrical Safety Day

Electrical Safety Day is our annual initiative to promote electrical safety awareness in schools throughout B.C. We provide teachers with in-class resources to help educate students how to spot electrical hazards and take a safe course of action.

Over 300 classrooms took part this May, and an estimated 13,000+ students learned what to do to stay safe.

2. Lead a classroom safety activity

Lead one of our safety activities in your class. Each activity is ready-to-use, curriculum-connected and is a great way to introduce electrical safety.

3. Measure out 10 metres

Can you and your students visualize how far 10 metres actually is? Illustrate the safe distance to stay away from a downed line by heading outside or to the gym, and have students line up objects from the classroom to measure out to 10 metres. Is it longer or shorter than they thought?

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