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April 26, 2013
Contact: Rick Moore (812) 876-0282

Hoosier Energy lights up Earth Day with Vincennes kindergartners

SULLIVAN — With stickers and paint brushes in hand, kindergarten children from Tecumseh- Harrison Elementary School in Vincennes created their own renewable energy keepsakes on Tuesday in celebration of Earth Day.

Hoosier Energy Education Specialist Angela Murphy, with assistance from three teachers and chaperones, helped the 60-plus children make solar jars at the electric cooperative power supplier's Environmental Education Center near Sullivan.

A lot of chatter ensued as three classes of students put recycled jars, stickers and paintable glue to good use, creating one-of-a-kind bases for their lights. The solar jars, Murphy told them, would collect sunlight if they put them in their windows during the day.

"You can use it as a nightlight in your room," she told them, explaining that the painted patterns would reflect onto the tables beneath them. At the suggestion of Murphy, many of the children were making plans to give their new lights to mom for Mother's Day.

The field trip included a search and discovery hour on the Education Center grounds near Turtle Creek Reservoir in western Sullivan County. Children were asked to identify all kinds of natural substances and critters and pick up any trash as good stewards of Earth Week.

At the close of morning activities, students made a commitment to energy conservation. Each signed his or her name and was awarded a Team Up to Power Down certificate — part of a Hoosier Energy electric co-op program that encourages consumers to use electricity more efficiently.

Teacher Stephanie VanMeter, whose husband works at the Merom Generating Station, Hoosier Energy's power plant in Sullivan County, said bringing the class to the center was an excellent opportunity for the students.

"With budget cuts I was looking outside the box for something fun and educational. We try to do something fun for Earth Day. This was perfect," VanMeter said.

Kindergarten teachers Kiley Koenig and Heather Hislip expressed appreciation for the outdoor excursion that presented students with new opportunities to learn.

"We have studied our science, including the five senses," Hislip said. The trip through the nearby grasses and trees helped them identify various tree species, causes and prevention of erosion, wind direction and other outdoor treasures that brought wide expressions and enthusiasm to little faces.

"Activities like this help all kids feel successful," as a group, Hislip said. "When their eyes are wide open, and their talking about the lesson, you know they're getting it."