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Local News

May 2, 2013

NYSEG trip sparks curiosity in local students

Crackle, pop, bang!

The sounds and light flashes of electricity passing through power lines prompted oohs and aahs from about 100 fourth-graders watching a demonstration at the NYSEG offices in Oneonta on Wednesday.

“Do it again, do it again!” one student cried out.

Three utility workers obliged, presenting different scenarios about the nature and dangers of electricity.

The demonstrations featured pops of bright arcs, sparks or zips of pure white light, not unlike a fireworks show. A few children covered their ears in anticipation, and many chattered after the mini-blasts.

But the messages from NYSEG workers were serious — electricity isn’t a toy and can be dangerous. Presenters repeated the warnings as often as the entertaining examples: Don’t play with power lines, they said, and stay away from downed electrical lines.

“Wires down happen a lot,” Kevin Maddalone, a NYSEG line chief, said. Storms cause damage to power lines, and water can be an invisible conductor of electricity, he said. In case of an emergency or accident, Maddalone urged pupils to seek assistance from police at the scene.

“Go to the cop,” he said. “You know you’ll be in a safe spot.”

The students’ field trip to the New York State Electric and Gas Corp. offices on Country Club Road included a 45-minute video and a demonstration that lasted about an hour, with plenty of time for questions. Students attending Wednesday were from Delaware Academy Central School in Delhi and the Oneonta City School District.

NYSEG in Oneonta has offered the demonstrations for 15 years, reaching an about 7,500 students, Clayton Ellis, spokesman for the utility, said Wednesday.

Maddalone, Al Shaver and Dave Simmons, three NYSEG workers who collectively have more than 95 years of experience, teamed up to show the impact of electrical dangers.

Maddalone was the main speaker, and Shaver and Simmons conducted the demonstrations at a mobile unit with utility poles and wires that replicated a setup on a community street.

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