About the Contests

About the Contests

BGE child safety contests raise awareness and fund school enrichment

It all starts with safety.

BGE’s first priority is to deliver energy safely and to show customers—especially children—how to use energy properly, avoid hazardous situations and report dangers promptly. Creating educational resources and contests targeting elementary school-aged children helps to:

  • Raise awareness of energy safety, especially among young people
  • Provide schools with resources on natural gas and electric safety
  • Provide winning schools with grant money for important school projects, equipment or educational initiatives
  • Start a social buzz, engaging educators, students and their families in conservations about the contest and safety
  • Foster a partnership with schools for future educational initiatives

Did you know?

  • 70% of child related electrical accidents occur at home, when adult supervision is present.*
  • More than 50% of American households cook or heat with natural gas, yet many children don’t recognize the smell of mercaptan, the safety additive used to make normally odorless natural gas detectable.
    * U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
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The BGE Wires Down Video Challenge is an annual contest created to provide electric safety education to children and grant funding to elementary schools in the BGE service area. Schools are asked to create their own versions of BGE’s iconic “Wires Down” TV commercial and submit them along with descriptions of school enrichment projects they would fund with the prize money. After voting and final judging periods, the overall winning school is awarded $10,000. Additional awards are also given in special categories, including an award for the best video from a school from each submitting county. For more information about the BGE Wires Down Video Challenge, visit BGEVideoChallenge.com.
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The Adventures of Captain Mercaptan® Natural Gas Safety Hero Challenge is an annual contest that focuses on natural gas safety. Captain Mercaptan takes his name from “mercaptan,” the safety additive that BGE and other gas utilities add to natural gas to make it easier to detect. The contest asks classes to develop comic strips featuring Captain Mercaptan and his sidekicks, Sunny and Piper, in a natural gas safety theme. The prize structure awards winners in each grade (K–5) $5,000 and an overall top winner with an additional $5,000. For more information about The Adventures of Captain Mercaptan Natural Gas Safety Hero Challenge, visit BGEGasHero.com.
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Captain Mercaptan teams up with IRON MAN® BGE partnered with Marvel® Comics to release IRON MAN featuring Captain Mercaptan, A Natural Team. In the story, which is set at Stark Industries’ new Maryland location, IRON MAN teams up with BGE’s natural gas safety heroes, Captain Mercaptan, Piper and Sunny to save the day. Readers are provided with information on how to identify the signs of a natural gas leak and take action to remain safe. The comic book was distributed along with a teacher’s guide to more than 210,000 elementary school students in the BGE service area and is available online at BGE.com/CaptainMercaptan.

Educational support for teachers.
To help educators better integrate the lesson of natural gas and electric safety into the classroom, BGE has prepared STEM appropriate classroom lessons, included in the downloadable contest entry kits. BGE also provides a wealth of free education materials through its e-Smart Kids website (
BGE-education.com). Teachers can download lesson plans, science experiments, worksheets and games to help make learning natural gas and electric safety fun for their students. BGE also offers in-school safety demonstrations conducted by line workers and gas mechanics. If you’re interested in an electric or natural gas safety demonstration at your school, please email BGEEducationalOutreach@BGE.com.

A big success in safety education…

  • 93% of participants said the contests were effective in educating students about natural gas and electric safety
  • Nearly all participants used the free online education material provided by BGE
  • 67% of participants used the social media share buttons on the website to share their school’s project with friends and family

…and school enrichment funding

Between the two contests, BGE has awarded grant funding totaling $283,000 to 51 different schools in central Maryland. Schools have used the funding for such projects as purchasing laptops and tablets for technology clubs, upgrading the school auditorium with lighting and a new sound system, renovating the school to create new classrooms and the building of an outdoor environmental classroom.

An elementary school from almost every county in our service territory has received funding through these programs.

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY: $50,000 awarded to 11 schools
BALTIMORE CITY: $55,000 awarded to 10 schools
BALTIMORE COUNTY: $119,000 awarded to 14 schools
CARROLL COUNTY: $10,000 awarded to 4 schools
HARFORD COUNTY: $43,000 awarded to 5 schools
HOWARD COUNTY: $4,000 awarded to 2 schools
PRINCE GEORGE’S: $2,000 awarded to 2 schools

Please encourage principals, teachers, parents and students to participate in these fun, educational, lucrative and potentially life-saving contests! It’s easy to enter either contest, and many schools will win.

Elementary Schools can win up to $10,000!