Hingham’s Safe and Sustainable Education Program

The Hingham Municipal Light Department has been dedicated to the Safe and Sustainable Education Program run by Ray Gouley for the past 30 years and is proud to see the program continue in classrooms today. This year, all Hingham elementary students from preschool to 5th grade participated in discussions about Mr. Ouch and electrical safety, energy efficiency, and where electricity comes from. Mr. Gouley also provided prizes for classroom games including frisbees that encourage children to be active and “burn carbs, not carbon!” There is a strong emphasis on getting students offline, outside, and active while being safe.

Hingham students receive energy-themed water bottles during Mr. Gouley’s workshop.

A huge message that the program always drives home for the students: Stop. Think. Stay Away. To keep children safe, they need to know what to do in an emergency and make sure they do not put themselves in danger. The kids are taught to always stay away from power lines, keep utensils out of sockets and toasters, and never mix electricity with water. But what happens if they come across a downed power line? Or a wire falls on the vehicle they are in? The program makes sure that kids of all ages have the tools they need in an emergency. And when in doubt, students are taught to always stop, think, and stay away. Mr. Ouch, a universal symbol, gets this message across in videos, materials, and signage. When Mr. Ouch is present, it is time to stop, think, and stay away. This message cannot be emphasized enough when it comes to protecting lives.

For different age groups and grades, the program has a tailored curriculum that Mr. Gouley develops with school staff and administration. For instance, kindergarteners may learn what a windmill is and how to spot one while 5th graders learn about all of the different types of energy sources from solar and windmills to nuclear or geothermal. There are also visuals to explain certain concepts. This year, Mr. Gouley brought posters with graphs and pie charts for the students to see the makeup of electricity generation both in Hingham and around the world. According to one poster that showed the electrical energy generation by source for the world, about 66% of energy generation still comes from fossil fuels. For comparison, 43% of HMLP’s energy supply is

Hingham students learn about the different types of emitting and non-emitting energy sources.

derived from fossil fuels. HMLP purchases renewable energy credits (RECs) to offset its fossil fuel consumption and was one of the first carbon-neutral light plants in the country.

In 2021, the Program received an award from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ House of Representatives for its success and value in Hingham schools. Every year, students are reminded to be smart when it comes to electricity and to stop, think, and stay away from dangerous situations. HMLP is grateful to Mr. Gouley for his dedicated service to the students. The program has been an invaluable asset for protecting Hingham’s youth and leaving them eager to learn more.