Westar Energy, Topeka Public Schools celebrate unique education partnership, cut ribbon on Education Station
One-of-a-kind substation also designed as an outdoor classroom
TOPEKA, Kan., May 1, 2014 — A life-size science project for kids and adults alike is coming alive at Topeka Public Schools’ (TPS) Kanza Education and Science Park, but it’s not just a tool for learning. Westar Energy’s Education Station substation also plays an important role in supporting Topeka’s growing electricity needs. Westar and TPS celebrated completion of Education Station with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, April 30.
Education Station supports STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum. Paint colors help identify key parts of the substation, including transformers and switches. From the safe vantage point of a pavilion that overlooks the substation, entire classes can get a view of the equipment. Signs around the substation explain how the various pieces of equipment work. Education Station is also a working substation to strengthen Topeka’s electric system for decades to come, while allowing Westar to retire five World War II-era substations.
“We all can look back on our elementary school field trips and remember the excitement of having a learning experience outside of the classroom. That’s the essence of Education Station – it complements classroom teaching and encourages young minds toward math and science,” said Mark Ruelle, Westar president and chief executive officer.
The partnership doesn’t end with 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. Proposed future plans include installation of solar panels and geothermal 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 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,” said Dr. Julie Ford, TPS superintendent.
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Westar Energy, Inc. (NYSE: WR) is Kansas’ largest electric utility. For more than a century, we have provided Kansans the safe, reliable electricity needed to power their businesses and homes. Every day our team of professionals takes on projects to generate and deliver electricity, protect the environment and provide excellent service to our nearly 700,000 customers. Westar has 7,200 MW of electric generation capacity fueled by coal, uranium, natural gas, wind and landfill gas. We are also a leader in electric transmission in Kansas. Our innovative customer service programs include mobile-enabled customer care, a smart meter pilot project and paving the way for electric vehicle adoption. Our employees live, volunteer and work in the communities we serve.
For more information about Westar Energy, visit us on the Internet at WestarEnergy.com. Westar Energy is on Facebook: Facebook.com/YourWestar and Twitter:Twitter.com/WestarEnergy.
Director, corporate communications
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