Case 3, VEKS Annual Review 2021
For some time, Køge CHP Plant had played with the idea to open their gates to the general public. Partly because the local business is a distinctive figure in Køge Harbour and partly because they had a lot of untold stories about sustainability, contributions to the green transition, etc. In short, the portfolio included a project about establishing a visitors’ service for the schoolleaving schoolchildren as the target group.
One day, a young man by the name of Stefan Gudtmann entered the plant: An mechanical engineer student looking for study-related work with focus on energy and a wish for contributing to the green transition himself. Moreover, he had moved to Køge recently.
The result of Stefan's meeting with Ulrik Jørgensen, head of power plant, was an employment contract where the key point as student assistant was to develop a visitors’ service.
Stefan started working on 1 March 2020. On 11 March 2020, the country closed down... So due to corona there have been a number of starts and stops along the way.
However, it also required a good deal of preliminary work before the plant could open the doors for the first class. Therefore, the first task was to create the settings and define goals and means for the presentation assignment – assisted by and reporting to the plant power manager.
In general, the intention was to spread the word and knowledge about green district heating as part of the solution to the green transition. With schoolchildren as the target group, you may to a high degree contribute to shaping outlooks instead of changing outlooks. Køge CHP Plant plays a role in the local community and by opening the doors at the plant, schoolchildren might become positive ambassadors to the district heating – and potential future colleagues.
In two hours, VEKS’ school visitor service will share their knowledge of district heating in Køge. This takes place by way of:
- Concrete communication and inclusive teaching
- Guided tour at the plant
- A test with ten questions
- Rounding off and incouragement to seek more knowledge.
Stefan uses his own story when he meets the schoolchildren. This means that he tells them about his rather untraditional way from the public school till now where is close at finishing his mechanical engi-neering education. Stefan wants the ninth grade pupils to know that there are also other and more qualifying ways to follow than upper secondary school educations (grammar school). This especially ap-plies if you career-wise aim at having a technical, specialist education. After his mechanic education, Stefan completed military training and then the interest of having a career as mechanical engineer arose. An education which could actually lead many ways.
The real world
When the settings for the visitors’ service were established, Stefan contacted a natural science coordina-tor in Køge Municipality who was right away very interested in establishing a cooperation. In general, many teachers experience a distinct need to give the pupils an insight into the “real” world – and pref-erably with a corporate visit as turning point. After a joint adjustment of the school visit programme, the above natural science coordinator wanted to turn up with a test class. The complete package was ready in the spring of 2021, however, once again the country was closed down and the schoolchildren were sent home.
In the meantime, Stefan could invite his own family on a tour where the programme and tour stood the test together with a life test of the audio equipment.
In the middle of October, Stefan and VEKS’ CEO, Lars Gullev, met with a large delegation from Køge Municipality's school administration (including the head of the school), the industrial association Con-nect Køge and key science teachers who consider making use of the service in the future. Moreover, a couple of employees from the pectin factory CP Kelco turned up to seek inspiration for arranging a simi-lar school offer.
In a compact form, the meeting went through the objects and content of VEKS’ visitors’ service and the participants also managed to get a tour - however, a short version - around the plant. The meeting was a success and the participants approved the new visitors’ service. In the beginning of November 2021, Køge CHP Plant could open their gates for the first visits of two test classes. It is expected that the school administration of Køge Municipality will soon accept that VEKS’ corporate visit offer at Køge CHP Plant will be registered at the national portal: skoletjenesten.dk.
The goal is to receive 1-2 school classes a month, however, the capacity will of course also be adjusted to match Stefan's timetable. The rumour has probably spread because so far, the teachers have come at their own initiative. So far, six classes have made use of the plant's visitors’ service and there are moreover no geographical limitations.
The main points in the very specific teaching and tour are a review of the CHP plant’s boiler, turbine, generator, and heat exchanger.
Prior to their visit, the teacher has prepared the pupils by basically teaching the pupils about Denmark's energy production and specifically how a boiler, turbine, heat exchanger and generator function. It is a really good idea to make use of www.fjernvarmeskolen.dk, both before and after the visit at Køge CHP Plant.
The schoolchildren's visit is part of the school subject “Science” which is the successor of the previous, separate subjects of physics, geography, and biology. The two-hour long teaching is a relatively compact event leaving a lot of impressions and there is of course always room for posing clarifying questions dur-ing the tour. And there are no such thing as stupid questions.
The pupils’ preparation for the visit, the teaching at the plant and the actual tour can replace the cur-riculum with a module about energy where district heating is on the timetable in this case.
Green district heating can also be unfolded even more and has already been the main subject of several scientific project assignments in science which all 9th classes pupils must prepare.
Moreover, an upper secondary school class has visited the plant as an introduction to an Energy course about sustainability and the work connected with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Before leav-ing the plant, the teacher said: “I’ll be back next year.”
Finally, the visitors’ service has welcomed two groups of boiler engineers who are in the process of train-ing at NEXT, CPH.
Since it is a relatively new offer, the visitors’ service will be developed on an ongoing basis. What should be adjusted – too easy, too difficult? What is the best way to maintain the focus of the schoolchildren? Do the teachers have any educational tricks? It is all about adjusting the educational theory and prac-tise according to the situation and the composition of pupils.
So far, the visitors’ service has apparently offered the right combination as the participants have been enthusiastic over the meeting with the real “district heating world” as well as the green district heating.