This week Mr Klimes took his Year 5/6 Science class to Guthega Power Station for an excursion linked to their studies on electricity unit. This was a superb opportunity for the students to make real life connections with what is learnt in class. The Snowy Scheme certainly provides our local community with opportunities galore to understand the role that water plays in the production of power on a grand scale.

During Term 2 we have been learning about electricity and energy. The class has built waterwheels to harness the power of water to lift a weight. This then lead to the study of how Snowy Hydro used this concept on a much greater scale to produce the electricity we use in our homes. First, we went to the Jindabyne pumping station to view a PowerPoint presentation about what Snowy Hydro do and how they harness the power. They discussed safety issues with us and then we proceeded up to Guthega Power Station.

Students were issued safety high-vis vests, hard hats and safety glasses that had to be worn at all times. Again a safety discussion was held to enforce the necessarily strict policy of “Hands Off, absolutely no touching of any equipment”. All students were signed into the station and we entered the main hall where the two massive turbines are located. Students were presented with an overall view of how the power station functions. We then went downstairs, which enabled us to get a close up and personal view of the massive turbine shaft spinning. Students were able to view the top of the fins that control the water flow into the turbine. Next we went underground to view the intake pipe and valves that control the flow of water into the turbine. We then went onto the top of the turbines to view how the magnets are induced to provide magnetic fields, enabling power to be produced.

Students were then taken into the old control room to see the old control panels and to compare these with the new touch screen systems that have now been implemented. We watched as our guide took control of the system away from the Cooma main office, and then we went through the logistical steps of starting the power generator. This had all students’ eyes ‘glued’ to the control screen as we watched the valves open, waters fill and equalize and then observed the RPM of the generator increase to an operating speed of 472RPM. The sounds and vibrations that everyone could sense from the mighty power of the water and the turbine firing up were astounding to all.

We then proceeded outside to view the switchyard and talked about the highly dangerous voltages that exist in this area. Students were given ghastly descriptions of accidents that have occurred when safety procedures were not followed. We then signed out of the power station, returned our safety equipment and went up to Guthega Pondage to view how the water is caught and included discussions about how Snowy Hydro use aqueducts to transport water from other areas into this pondage.

All our students really enjoyed the day and found this experience fabulous and very rewarding. Students asked excellent questions of our guides. We would like to thank Rohan Pidcock and Adam Robinson for their expertise and guidance around the power station. Without their efforts, this wonderful ‘behind the scenes’ look at our local infrastructure would not have been possible.