Energy Education

Sometimes, the right equipment is a spoon

It pays to have the right tool.

That’s the lesson high school students in San Antonio, Texas, learned during an Energy4me workshop. Nearly 100 students competed in the hands-on activity, which challenges them to produce and refine the most amount of oil in the quickest time with the least (or no) amount of spillage or other complications.

Just like real life!

During the activity, students can purchase or exchange various tools that represent advancing technologies in oil and gas exploration. In one game, they learn about exploration, project management and negotiating.

“I loved the peak oil game because it taught me the importance of having the right equipment and right team when doing a task,” one student said.

The Society of Petroleum Engineers conducts Enervgy4me workshops and presentations all over the world. Through extensive use of hands-on activities, this innovating program, working in conjunction with the NEED project, encourages students to study engineering. In particular, the peak oil game teaches students the value of exploring for and producing hydrocarbons.

Studies prove that hands-on activities create connections between the classroom and real-world situations. This style of teaching also nurtures critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are traits that many employers value.

“The Energy4me workshops not only are a lot of fun for the students, but they also are incredibly educational,” said Mary Spruill, NEED executive director. “Because we use hands-on activities, students do not passively listen to a lecture; they must think through a problem or situation. They learn that they can interpret data, which is a fundamental skill for engineers.”

After completing the activity portion of the workshop, students were then treated to a tour of the exhibition floor where they see all of the technology they just learned. The tour is a true highlight of the workshop and the only way that students can access an SPE exhibit floor.

At the same time, the students were learning about oil and gas, 20 science teachers took part in a separate workshop. Energy4me believes that if we educate a teacher, we educate generations of aspiring engineers.

A 5th grade science teacher said, “I now see the importance of combining hands-on experiments with theory to help increase students understanding.”

Teachers receive a free digital version of the Energy4me teacher kit, which includes many resources that they can take back to the classroom. Teachers also get an exhibition tour.

 

 

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.

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.

 

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.”

 

STEM Day at Elmore Elementary in Houston, Texas

SPE member Randi Steele represented SPE’s Energy4me program and the Houston Museum of Natural Science at Elmore Elementary’s second annual STEM Day on Jan. 26. The program was organized by Crystal Williams, fourth grade STEM, computer science and robotics educator.

Williams instituted STEM Day as a way to motivate the students to think big about their futures and get them to focus on going to college. The day consisted of science presentations, robotics labs, a math competition and six science workshops.

Steele presented a basic discussion of fossil fuels and drilling for oil using materials from the Houston Museum of Natural Science where she is a master docent in the Weiss Energy Hall. Steele presented twice to large groups of about 30 fifth graders. They were very attentive and asked great questions.

“They loved learning about the rocks – especially the coal, halite, and sulfur samples,” Steele said. “Another highlight was showing the perforating gun and discussing the chemical explosive involved. This was a very worthwhile experience, and I look forward to doing it again!”

 

 

 

Sharing Experiences of Energy4me Between Aberdeen and Kazakhstan – Inspiring the Next Generation.

Aizhana Jussupbekova, SPE Atyrau-Kazakhstan Section, recently visited Aberdeen and met with Colin Black (Director SPE Europe Limited) and Sonia Watson (STEM Learning Coordinator at Aberdeen Science Centre) to get advice about expanding their Energy4me programme in schools in Kazakhstan and also running an Energy4me workshop at the forthcoming Caspian Technical Conference 2016. 

Aizhana was instrumental in starting the Energy4me programme in Kazakhstan back in 2013. Aizhana explained “We started with two people willing to visit schools, talk to kids and educate them on energy. Now, the program has grown significantly. Young professionals from SPE Astana Section, in collaboration with Nazarbayev University Student Chapter, visit a number of public schools year round.’ Additionally, Aizhana is involved in making steps to expand the program in Atyrau. She added, “Our passion for Energy4me convinced SPE Global to run a workshop for teachers at the Annual Caspian Conference and Exhibition in November of 2016”.

Energy4m Abeerdeen

Aizhana Jussupbekova, SPE Atyrau-Kazakhstan Section, with Colin Black (Director SPE Europe Limited) and Sonia Watson (STEM Learning Coordinator at Aberdeen Science Centre)

 

Ahead of this workshop, Aizhana met with Colin and Sonia. Aizhana explained ‘I was always impressed with the fact that Aberdeen Section was able to include the Energy4me program in the school curriculum. Talking to these dedicated professionals I realized that this was possible through the great collaboration between SPE Aberdeen Section and Aberdeen Science Centre. Visiting Colin and the team provide me with valuable advice on how we can improve the implementation of the program and also how to organise the planned workshop. I would like to thank Colin and Sonia for meeting with me at the Aberdeen Science Centre and also special thanks to Colin for taking me around Fittie town!”

 Colin commented “Aizhana and I are on the SPE Global Energy Information / Energy4me Committee so it was really good to have her visit us in Aberdeen and see first-hand our collaboration with ASC on Energy4me teacher CPD”.

Sonia added: “It was great to meet Aizhana and pass on the successful approach that we at Aberdeen Science Centre, in collaboration with SPE Aberdeen, have taken with Energy4me teacher CPDs.”

 

 

 

Engineering meets arts and crafts – Dallas staff Energy4me workshop

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Core Sampling

In the field, core samples consist of sediment or rock. But in an Energy4me workshop, core samples are made up of bright pink and purple sand.

About 30 Society of Petroleum Engineers staff participated in an Energy4me workshop in Dallas. During the workshop, participants conducted four experiments that focused on various parts of oil exploration and production. In the core sample exercise, employees filled small plastic cups with three layers of colored sand. Then, using a drinking straw, they worked to pull out a core sample.

It’s a simplified version of the real experience, but it serves as a great example of core sampling.

“Allowing us the opportunity to complete hands-on activities really helped everyone visualize the types of things that petroleum engineers work on, and the types of engineering work that we talk about with our members,” said Debbie Anderson, Bookstore & Libraries Manager. “I would recommend the workshop to anyone that wants to learn more about petroleum engineering in general.”

Conducted across the globe, Energy4Me educates middle school and high school students about the energy industry. The program is designed to engage students at a young age to study math and science, thereby ensuring a future workforce. The program also educates teachers on using hands-on activities to illustrate technical aspects of engineering.

In the Dallas workshop, the other experiments were “getting the oil out,” “perforated well casings” and “fracturing with gelatin.”

For the “getting the oil out” experiment, participants taped together drinking straws to create the illusion of a well drilled deep underground for oil. The trick is to properly connect the pipe sections – pieces of straw – to suck the oil, or in this case, soft drink and chocolate syrup, to the surface.

Some staffers were immediately successful while others learned that drilling can be challenging.

Getting the Oil Out

“My favorite activity was definitely the activity with the straws, though each were interesting in a different way,” said Leah Looten, Membership Recruitment and Engagement Senior Administrator. “We improvised a bit and messed up others, so I’m not sure they were 100 percent successful, though they were 100 percent fun.”

By participating in an Energy4me workshop, several SPE staffers expressed an interest in conducting their own workshops.

“I would also recommend it to anyone who may want to conduct their own event,” Anderson said. “I’m a Cubmaster for a Cub Scout pack, and I would love to conduct my own E4M workshop with our Scouts. Thank you for the opportunity!”

Brett Fountain, Senior Web Integrator and Developer, likened the workshop to “engineering meets arts and crafts.” He said that the experience is a very enjoyable way to learn some basic concepts that he hopes to teach to his son’s class next year.

“It was simultaneously so fun and so educational that it made me wish my son could have been in on it,” he said. “Now I want to facilitate this kind of hands-on learning for him and his friends. If you are inquisitive and curious and not afraid to get your hands wet, you will have fun learning about this industry.

“This was the best lunch-and-learn ever — I basically forgot to eat.”