GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A handful of South Mississippi teachers are getting a unique opportunity this summer. They're taking part in an "externship," a chance to get hands-on experience inside a power plant.
Jack Cordray teaches AP chemistry at Gulfport High. This week, he's the student taking notes in a lab.
"We've been in the water lab. We've seen how critical water is to producing electricity. We've watched in operations how they control the boilers to produce electricity, how when power usage increases during the day, how they have to ramp up the boiler and then slow it back down. It's just an amazing place," said Cordray.
Cordray is one of several teachers spending time at Mississippi Power's Plant Watson in Gulfport this week. It's part of a pilot program through the Department of Education and Mississippi Power. The goal is to help inspire students about STEM opportunities.
"Science, technology engineering, and math is what our company is run by," explained Ann Holland, who's in charge of education outreach for Mississippi Power. "So. just to bring that back to the classroom and let everyone know the different components of it and how you can have a career in any of those fields."
"My students have no idea what goes on up here. I had no idea what went on up here." Said Ben Stansbury.
This was Stansbury's first time in a power plant. The engineering teacher from Ocean Springs High especially liked the control room, where technicians monitor the plant's three massive turbines.
Stansbury said he looks forward to sharing some of his experiences with his students this year.
Stansbury and the other teachers taking part in the program are hoping those experiences will help their students understand how the lessons they're learning in the classroom can apply to the real world.
"It gives them something they can relate to," Cordray said. "They see the power plant and they know electricity is produced here. And to be able to tell them the different ways the theories are used to produce electricity, it makes a connection to them."
The teachers will also spend time at Mississippi Power's Plant Daniel in Moss Point. Their "externship" goes toward their continuing education units required by the department of education.