Alabama Power Engineer Kenneth Odom isn’t a full-time teacher, but he loves sharing his knowledge of hydropower across the state.
For the last six years, Odom, a Hydro Services engineer, has traveled across the state using a handmade hydropower model to show students how hydropower works to generate electricity. Odom and John Kirkland, hydro manager at Holt Dam, built the model.
The model has a type of turbine – a Pelton wheel – and a generator that uses a water valve to power a computer fan and a small lightbulb.
Odom begins his demonstration by discussing Alabama Power’s hydroelectric plants and their locations. He describes the plant, the water reservoir and how the water gets from the reservoir to the turbine. He explains that the turbine is connected to a generator, and the spinning of the turbine makes the generator produce electricity.
By increasing or decreasing the water to the model, Odom demonstrates how much “voltage” is used to make the lightbulb turn on or the computer fan run.
“I explain to students how the water pressure I’m using is similar to the height of water behind a dam,” he said. “That leads into a discussion of how much water pressure I’m going to need to light the bulb or make the fan turn.”
Odom turns on the light and then increases the water pressure to show how the light gets brighter as the water pressure increases.
Odom’s presentation includes a discussion about transmission lines and how the lines carry electricity into homes. He also covers power line safety and what to do if you see power lines on the ground, such as after a storm.
“I love doing these presentations because I’ve always liked teaching,” Odom said. “I’ve done this at schools all over the state, and I’m always excited to teach kids about hydropower and how important it is to Alabama.”