Blog

Have you ever seen the beginning of oil?

About 360 students in Kuwait did recently, thanks to the Energy4me workshop they attended during the Kuwait Oil & Gas Show.

Walking into the Ahmad Al Jaber Exhibition Center, these students along with 60 teachers were thrilled to see one of the world’s largest curved screens, which gives visitors a glimpse of the industry in Kuwait. The building was designed to look and have the shape of the shell of an extinct marine animal called the ammonite, which lived some 120 million years ago and is thought by scientists to have contributed to the formation of today’s oil reserves.

The Energy4me team took participants on a journey of exploration and production. In the fun and educational workshops, teachers and students learned how humans first discovered oil as they worked through the “natural oil seep” experiment. Next, they investigated seismic technology to see what is beneath the surface; to do that test, the groups used the “sound wave” experiment with Slinkys and Styrofoam cups.

These hands-on activities do so much to help us understand the basic scientific concepts that are dealt with within the industry, but more than that, they help give us an understanding on how to engage with students in the classroom in a fun and easy way,” said one science teacher from the Canadian Bilingual School.

Teachers and students then learned about the value of a core sample in understanding the concepts of pressure, porosity, permeability and density in helping scientists make a decision about where to produce energy. The resources offered by the Energy4me program are designed to help make these concepts more accessible to the public to increase awareness and understanding.

The journey ended with the “perforated well casing” activity, which teaches the concept that perforations help us extract more oil and natural gas, and the “getting the oil out” activity, which always sparks a fierce but friendly team competition to see who can get the oil out of the ground. Only, in this experiment, chocolate syrup and cola take the place of oil (one being more viscous than the other).

The workshops show teachers the value of using hands-on activities to encourage students to pursue STEM-related subjects in school and at university. The aim for the students was to highlight some of the exciting aspects of being an engineer and to help give them a better idea of what to expect should they choose to pursue an engineering career.

All of our experiments are freely downloadable via the Energy4me website and the materials that are needed were designed to be easily accessible in any part of the world so that anyone would be able to use our resources to help educate the public.

Texas A&M Student Chapter showing kids how sweet the industry can be!

The Texas A&M Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) student chapter expanded its Outreach program in 2016-2017 to promote careers in STEM and encourage creative thinking. The initiative reached 500+ K-12 students in the local community, engaging them through visits to elementary/high schools and energy education fairs. Each presentation involved a demonstration that illustrated a petroleum or energy-related concept. One extremely popular demo involved using chocolate pudding, marshmallows, and sprinkles to describe drilling mud! Today, the organization continues to find new ways to spark interest in energy. Plans include a 3D-printed (working) pumping unit, as well as a porosity-permeability demo.

 

SPE Colombia Teaches Energy4me to 600 Students

 In July, 32 SPE members volunteered to teach the Energy4me program to nearly 600 6th and 7th grade students at the San Jose de Orito School and Jorge Eliecer Gaitan School in Orito, Colombia. The three-day event was a big hit among students and teachers. “With students, it is always important to do a hands-on activity since they are very curious,” said Jenny Bravo, teacher at San Jose de Orito School. “The activity is a motivation for their classes; many of them want to be engineers. When the students work with the volunteers, they have an incentive to continue their studies in university. I notice you were able to motivate them.”

Space exploration science principles apply in the oil industry, too

Aberdeen, we have an astronaut!

That wasn’t exactly the introduction as retired NASA astronaut Rick Hieb visited the Scottish city recently to educate local teachers on science and space exploration. But, it was accurate!

Hieb was joined by NASA space scientist Sue Lederer and Hyang Lloyd, president and co-founder of the Scottish Space School Foundation USA. The trio visited Aberdeen as part of the NASA in Aberdeen 2017 project, participating in a range of scientific events catering to students from primary and secondary schools plus families visiting Aberdeen Science Centre.

This initiative was jointly organized by the Society of Petroleum Engineers, the Energy Institute and Society of Underwater Technology.

The NASA in Aberdeen project seeks to inspire the next generation of engineers, said SPE member and Energy4me advocate Colin Black, who also serves as chairman of the NASA in Aberdeen project.

“We seek to show the link between the technology and processes used in space travel and how these translate to the energy industry,” Black said. “A large part of this is providing continued professional development for teachers to continue this learning, encouraging pupils to consider a career in the energy sector as a result.”

The program offered educational lessons to teachers on topics such as staying safe in space and returning to Earth. The teachers said that not only were the resources to be useful and enjoyable but that they also plan to use what they’ve learned in their classrooms, teach their students even more about space travel and its relation to other industries.

From left to right, Colin Black, Dr Sue Lederer, Hyang Lloyd and Rick Hieb.

“NASA in Aberdeen is an excellent collaboration bringing oil and gas industry bodies together with STEM education organizations to inspire the next generation through demonstrating the exciting possibilities solving the challenges we face both in space as well as here on Earth,” said Stuart Farmer, chair of the educational committee for the NASA in Aberdeen 2017 project. “In addition to the recent visit of NASA staff, the subsequent series of professional development workshops for secondary science teachers ensures the project provides ongoing support for teachers.”

Teachers build and launch compressed air rockets

Bahrain students like the sound of exploration

A Slinky and two foam cups. Individually, these items don’t seem like they can play a key role in science. But when you connect them, these household items demonstrate a very important principle in oil exploration – sound waves.

Students from the Bahraini public and private schools attended the Energy4me workshop during the recent Middle East Oil & Gas Show and Conference. In all, just over 200 students and 41 teachers participated in the workshop at the Bahrain Petroleum Company (BAPCO) facility in Awali.

The students participated in several hands-on activities that demonstrate various parts of oil and gas exploration and production. The Society of Petroleum Engineers conducts these workshops all over the globe to introduce students to the industry with age-appropriate games and activities. SPE’s goal is to excite students about studying engineering.

The idea that STEM subjects are the key to unlocking all these possibilities and that good engineers are problem solvers and creators.

Also during the workshop, teachers experienced what it was like to be students again by getting their hands dirty while trying to find oil. SPE donated a teacher’s kit which included all of the resources (lesson plans and informational material) that they would need in order to conduct hands-on activities in their own classrooms. The teachers also were treated to a refinery tour courtesy of BAPCO.

 

Orange, silver and gold – a quick lesson in density

Which is more dense – an orange inside its skin or an orange that has been peeled?

Parents can easily conduct an experiment on density at home. It’s fun for mom and dad to perform hands-on science experiments together, so we created a low-cost experiment that uses household items.

First, get a clear vessel – such as a big glass bowl – and fill it with water. Then grab various items such as fruit (oranges and apples), corks, coins, rocks and a half-filled water bottle.

With younger children, ask them if the cork or the rock would sink. For older children, present a real-life situation such as the sinking of the Titanic. Ask real-life density examples such as how does a life jacket provide flotation and how does a massive steel ship float.

For those students who excel at the toughest density experiments, it’s time to present the Archimedes’ principle for density. An ancient Greek mathematician and engineer, Archimedes devised a method to test if a crown was forged of solid gold, or if silver diluted the gold crown of King Hiero II. When submerged in water, the crown would displace an amount of water equal to its own volume. This density would be lower than that of gold if cheaper and less dense metals had been added. Archimedes’ experiment proved that silver had been added to the king’s crown.

I would hate to be that goldsmith who cheated the king!

To try this at home, parents should explain the principle of density and perform the experiment. To test your child’s knowledge, ask him or her to explain the concept and perform the experiment on their own then justify the result.”

Ah, and to the question posed at the beginning of this story – did you get the right answer? The peeled orange sinks like a rock. The rind of an orange is full of tiny air pockets which help give it a lower density than water, making it float to the surface.

The FAQ on E&P: Chatting with Middle School Students about Oil and Gas

SPE Gulf Coast section member Vikrant Lakhanpal recently visited Olle Middle School in Houston, Texas.

Fueling young minds, that’s why Vikrant Lakhanpal recently visited Olle Middle School in Houston, Texas.

Lakhanpal, a production engineer at Proline Energy Resources, spoke with the students about the whole life cycle of energy production from oil and gas – geological exploration, drilling, production, transportation and refining.

“I got a chance to interact with the students and understand their perspective about the E&P industry,” he said. “It was interesting to understand what the young minds think about petroleum engineering as a career.”

A member of the Gulf Coast section, Lakhanpal based his presentation on the future energy outlook, increasing dependency on renewable energy and how the world will still depend on oil and gas 30 years from now. Lakhanpal said that even though a lot of research is happening in the renewable sector, it is not possible to become completely fossil fuel independent.

He also emphasized that oil production is a multi-disciplinary science, and the first principles of science are applied at each stage.

“I sometimes hear students ask why a certain subject is being taught to them,” Lakhanpal said. “They think it won’t be of any use in the future. That’s exactly why I wanted to give them the technical details of how things actually work. I wanted them to realize that petroleum engineering is not something out of the world; it is based on the principles of physics used to extract oil from ground.”

Lakhanpal created a trivia quiz game. He said he was concerned that the students had not been interested in the topic he presented. Had they paid attention? Would they be able to answer the questions? Happily, he received an over-whelming response.

“They asked questions about which courses to take, whether to go for an associate degree or a master’s degree,” Lakhanpal said. “I am glad I could make a difference and motivate them to take up STEM education. I am thankful to SPE for giving me this opportunity of making an impact in someone’s life. I will definitely make myself available again for such opportunities in future.”