Renewable energy

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.

A Map is Worth a Thousand Words…



Example map of US oil and gas exploration

The saying goes; a picture is worth a thousand words.  We think when it comes to statistics and kids that saying is absolutely true!  The National Energy Education Development Project (NEED) has compiled a variety of US maps with all sorts of energy statistics on them.  Want to know where the US coal basins are located?  There’s a map for that.  Want to know what state consumes the most energy?  There’s a map for that too.

Want your students do learn comparison skills?  Have them compare the states with the largest population to the states that consume the most electricity. Have each student compare their home state with another state.  NEED even gives you a few activity ideas complete with tables and critical thinking questions.  The activities that correlate with these maps are endless!

Join the conversation and let us know how you plan to use these maps in your classroom!

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US Energy Use – Rise in Natural Gas, Solar and Wind

The 2012 data is in! The Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, operated with the Department of Energy, collects data to share unique graphics about American energy consumption. In their latest flowchart, energy sources of production are detailed with how the energy is used and how much waste exists. In 2012, an increase in natural gas, solar panels, and wind turbines were used to generate electricity.

Because of sustained low prices and technology advances, natural gas has become a strong substitute for coal as an energy source. The rise in the renewables, solar and wind, also has to do with decreasing costs of electricity-producing panels and turbines. Overall, U.S. energy use fell by 2 percent from 2011.

Check out the Laboratory’s flowchart, and see how the sources are represented!


For the full article linked to the Laboratory’s flowchart and more facts about the data, VISIT HERE. 

Energy4me provides in-depth detail about each energy source in a comparison chart. See the pros and cons, challenges, and conservation efforts of each one HERE. 


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The Ambassadors for Pakistan have done it again!

For the second year in a row, the “Ambassadors for Pakistan” have made several visits in their community presenting energy awareness and making an impact! The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) NED University Student Chapter in Karachi, Pakistan, conducted five Energy4me presentations this year in secondary schools, colleges and universities in Pakistan.

The student-run program promotes SPE and educates the surrounding schools about the oil and gas industry and the challenges facing it today.

The schools they visited

  1. Abdullah Government College
  2. The Fahim’s A-Levels School System
  3. CharterHouse Public School
  4. A.M.S.B Al-Madrast-us-Saifyat-ul-Burhaniya
  5. Jinnah University For Women

Energy4me and SPE would like to express our thanks to the commitment and continued efforts of this student chapter!

Ambassadors for Pakistan Team (2009-present)

  • Hernan Buijs- SPE Student Development Committee Officer (mentor, motivator, and visit sponsor)
  • M Turab Mehdi – Ambassadors for Pakistan – Team Executive Head & Planner
  • Tabinda Saeed – HR Manager
  • Syeda Hasan- Team Manager

New presenters added this year.

  • Sidra Chughtai – Presenter
  • Omer Ashan – Presenter
  • Shahzeb Barber – Presenter
  • Eijaz Danish – Presenter
  • Mufaddal Murtaza – Presenter

Energy4me encourages young industry leaders to get involved in their community by giving classroom presentations or holding educational outreach programs like the SPE NED student chapter. These presentations make a huge impact and inspire future generations!

Share with us your contributions and outreach efforts in your community that you are already making with Energy4me and email us at or read more on how you can get involved in your community!

Again, thank you to the SPE NED University Student Chapter on your continued education outreach efforts in Pakistan!

Energy Education Materials are a Hit!

Guest Author – Mary Spruill, Executive Director, National Energy Education Development Project (NEED)

Energy4Me materials developed in partnership with NEED are a huge hit and will be used by NEED’s trainers throughout the 2011-2012 school year.

Throughout the year, The NEED Project ( and Energy4me, the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) energy education program, work together on many energy education activities including the Teacher and Student Workshop at the Offshore Technology Conference and the Teacher and Student Workshop at SPE’s ATCE.  Each summer though, NEED’s energy programs get bigger and faster paced with so many kids and teachers to reach in only a few short weeks.  This June and July were no exception with over 550 kids and teachers in Washington, D.C. to participate in the 31st Annual NEED Youth Awards for Energy Achievement.  This event recognizes school groups who commit to learning about energy and to sharing their knowledge with their peers, their teachers and their communities.  Students submit portfolios of  their energy programming in April for review at the state and national level, and the winning schools come spend 4 days in the Nation’s Capital sharing their energy work, touring our monuments and museums, and meeting with elected and appointed officials.

On a sleepy Sunday morning during the conference – the kids are up early and working on hands-on activities featuring the lessons provided by Energy4Me and some lessons that NEED and Energy4Me created together.  The students are learning about porosity and permeability, and the work needed to bring oil and natural gas to market.  They learn about transportation efficiency too and consider ways to make the vehicles of tomorrow and their own driving habits more efficient too.  The activities from Energy4Me are engaging, fun, and provide students with the background they need to really understand the oil and natural gas resources we use each day.  They leave with big smiles, new friends, and new activities to take home to their communities and share.

As soon as the Youth Awards wraps up, NEED’s training team heads out to the NEED National Energy Conference for Educators.  This year’s conference in Denver, Colorado hosted 150 educators from across the country and from Thailand and the Saipan.  For a week, the educators were like students at summer camp – learning about each other and about energy so they could return to their classrooms and teach energy with excitement and fun.  The Energy4Me activities and the presentation resources allow students and teachers alike to look more deeply into oil and natural gas development and use.  This year’s opening speaker was Don McClure, Vice President for Community Relations, Legal and Finance at EnCana, one of America’s largest natural gas producers.  Don’s extensive background in energy provided teachers with a look at how diverse the industry is, the number of jobs available for all types of students, and the challenges and opportunities that abound in developing natural gas in America.  In the days that followed, teachers learned about density, drilling technologies, properties of oil and natural gas and are prepared to take the lessons home and open up the oil and natural gas world to their students.

But that’s not all.  After Denver, the team packed up and traveled to La Quinta, California for NEED’s Facilitator Training Conference.  This conference is hosted every few years and brings together teachers, NEED’s training staff, and energy professionals from many companies and  agencies to sharpen their facilitation skills, to train on new content and new materials, and to learn how to deliver energy curriculum and training to teachers in NEED’s 600+ energy trainings each year.  This year’s group of 40 trainers rolled up their sleeves and researched and presented about America’s leading energy sources, they debated the advantages and disadvantages of the energy sources we use today, and they developed methods to share energy information with teachers and students nationwide. The It is a busy (but fun!) summer and together with SPE, NEED is reaching thousands of teachers and students each year.  As America’s teachers head back to school this month, let’s take a minute to thank them and to encourage them to teach about energy as often as possible in class!

For the 2011-2012 NEED curriculum guides or to register for a NEED workshop near you visit!


North-east schools get educated at All-Energy 2011

All-Energy hosted an Education Day at its 2011 conference Thursday 19th May to help educate local schools about a range of renewable topics.

Organised by Aberdeen Council, Aberdeenshire Council, the Energy Institute and the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Aberdeen, the event is aimed at teachers and careers advisors to help raise awareness of the Renewable sector.

The event also hosted the final of the ‘Electrocity Challenge’ where five teams of four children from Meldrum Academy, Peterhead Academy, Mackie Academy, Turriff Academy and Mintlaw Academy went head to head in an “ElectroCity” Competition.   ElectroCity is an online game that has been developed specifically for teachers and students between years 7 and 9. Students build and manage their own virtual towns and cities, making important decisions and learning about energy generation and environmental management. Representatives from a range of businesses led round tables to provide valuable industry information to subject-specialist teachers and career guidance experts.

Colin Black, SPE CG Chairman, Aberdeen Section, said:  “This event focuses on sharing information with teachers and pupils so they are better informed about the ‘whole energy’ sector and careers within it.  This includes the ‘energy mix’ of hydrocarbons and renewable as well as the vital role the oil and gas sector plays now and in the future.

This is a global energy industry with many opportunities for young people – SPE Aberdeen aims to continue to provide background information, facts, guidance on career paths and information on how to enter the industry.  This event is a positive step towards this.” 

SPE Aberdeen, along with other hosts, provided tour guides for teachers and pupils to meet many of the businesses exhibiting at the show. 

SPE collaboration with Schools is part of the global SPE initiative  and SPE volunteers will be working closely with Schools during various events throughout this next term and anyone wishing to lend support should contact the Aberdeen Section, Career Guidance Committee at

Is there really such a thing as a clean energy source?

Guest Author – Mary Spruill, Executive Director, National Energy Education Development Project (NEED)

In my work, I am often asked if there is really any such thing as clean energy.  Every day there is a news story, a press release from a company or government agency talking about clean energy.  Even President Obama talked about clean energy in the 2011 State of the Union Speech.  In the 600 or so workshops the National Energy Education Development Project (NEED) provides for teachers each year, we field constant questions about what clean energy is and how can we define it. 

Truthfully, energy is complex.  Energy is complicated.  But there are some things about energy that are simple.  Energy cannot be created nor destroyed.  It can be transformed.  It is in that transformation that we harness the energy we use to heat and cool our homes, to generate electricity to power our houses, apartment buildings, office buildings, and factories, and to fuel our vehicles to move products and ourselves from place to place.  All of the energy we use requires that transformation to make it do work.  That’s what energy is – the ability to do work. 

The use of energy requires us to make some pretty complicated decisions.  For over 20 years, my experience with NEED and the people with whom we work has shown me that although some energy decisions may seem to be simple, they can be very complex.  Each decision must take into account economic, environmental, public perception and, often, available technologies and capabilities.  With all of this as background, is it really possible to say that there is a perfectly clean energy source?  Perhaps it is possible to say that an energy source is CLEANER than another, but saying that any energy source is clean really doesn’t tell the full story.  All energy sources have advantages and disadvantages.  That is why energy decisions require a deep understanding of energy. 

Development of oil and natural gas requires drilling into the earth on land, or below our oceans, refining and processing the oil and gas, and moving the resulting products to markets to use them. (pipeline, tanker truck, tanker ship, barge and more)  When we use oil and natural gas we burn it releasing carbon dioxide and other emissions.  Developing wind requires decisions on land use, the mining and development of materials to build wind turbines, the trucking and shipping of the components (the tower, nacelles, blades) to the site for installation and the running of power lines to be able to move the electricity generated from the wind to market.  Solar requires tools to capture the radiant and thermal energy. Photovoltaic cells are made from mined materials that must be manufactured into the solar cells we see on our houses, road-side signage, and elsewhere.  Large-scale solar takes a lot of land to produce large amounts of electricity.  Then power lines must be put in place to move that electricity too.

I often hear representatives of one energy source saying how different their energy source is from others.  In reality, some of the fundamentals are the same.  We have to move the energy we need to where we need it, electricity over power lines (needed equipment to harness the wind or the sun) or pipelines to move oil and natural gas.  That movement has an impact on the environment too.  When wind developers plan a wind farm, they often run into the same challenges that oil and gas developers deal with and that’s how best to use the land and to return it to as close to its original state as possible.  When native species of plants and animals are considered, wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, hydropower, coal, uranium, oil and natural gas, all can have an impact on local plants and animals.  So, all decisions have to take that impact into consideration during the planning process. 

Certainly, some energy sources do not have to be mined or drilled for, but the equipment needed to harness them comes from mined and drilled resources.   Some energy sources really are better for certain needs like bringing more work per unit of energy than others.  Some sources require us to overhaul our energy infrastructure like the power grid and pipelines or even the cars we choose and how we power them.  Some require us to find plenty of land to install the equipment and then the power lines to move the electricity to where we need it. 

Making a clean energy decision is making the choice, when possible, to use less energy by conserving it and being more efficient.    When you choose to turn the lights off when you leave the room, walk or carpool instead of driving alone, you choose to make the cleanest energy decision possible.  Energy – how we produce it, use it, and conserve it are based on our personal energy decisions. 

 If students in today’s classrooms can understand two things it would be, one, that all energy sources have advantages and disadvantages and that a specific energy need may be best met by one specific energy source and, two, that the decision making process requires energy knowledge, an understanding of technological capabilities, and the willingness to always look for a better way, a cleaner way, to meet our energy needs.

Learn more about energy and energy sources.

SPE Delta Section Visits Thomas Jefferson High School

Guest Author – Courtney Sample, SPE Delta Section

On February 11th, three SPE members visited Thomas Jefferson High School to discuss oil and gas to two 12th grade classes, AP Environmental Science and AP Chemistry. We began by introducing ourselves explaining our individual paths leading to a career in the Petroleum Industry. Pete Lensing, who works for BOPCO, as a production engineer emphasized the benefits of working in the field as an intern and as a new hire.

Next, we presented a few power point slides from the energy4me prepared presentation. Before the presentation students were connvinced renewables would be the only source of energy in 2030. After an explanation and the World Energy Demand slide, they realized oil and coal would still be a vital source of energy in the future. Courtney Sample, a reservoir engineer for Chevron explained how Chevron and other petroleum companies have devoted whole Buisness Units to renewable energy and energy efficiency. At Chevron it is called Chevron Technology Ventures.

Sean OBoyle, a consultant for ExPert E&P talked about the opportunities in the petroleum field. He informed students about the different options for a Petroleum Engineer. He explained how he has had the opportunity to travel around the world and also live in the state of Louisiana.

The students had lots of questions about the industry and about education. One really good question was about school and life balance. We encouraged the students to pursue petroleum engineering so that the energy industry has more creative minds in the future to find innovative cost effective ways to reduce our carbon footprint.

Learn more about a career in petroleum engineering or energy sources

Congratulations to SPE member Belinda Wu “New Faces of Engineering” 2011 honoree!

This year the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) is proud to announce that Belinda Wu, an SPE member, was among the New Faces of Engineering honorees for 2011.

Each year, National Engineers Week Foundation, a coalition of engineering societies, major corporations and government agencies, asks its members to nominate colleagues 30 years old and younger for consideration as one of the New Faces of Engineering. The work of the 2011 class reflects many of the most pressing issues that engineers are endeavoring to solve on a global scale, including energy resources, infrastructure renewal, technological advancement and national security.

Belinda Wu is currently a reservoir engineer for Woodside Energy Ltd. in Perth, Australia. She is passionate about her work because it is so dynamic, facing different challenges from day to day. As a reservoir engineer in the oil and gas industry, her job involves finding and extracting hydrocarbons from reservoir rock deep below the surface of the earth. Much of the world’s energy is sourced from oil and gas, so her work involves constantly improving on technologies that will enable more hydrocarbons to be extracted in a cost effective manner. She is excited about being an engineer. She chose her career because she enjoys the thrill of solving complex problems and likes the flexibility to work on site or in the office.  Plus, working in the oil and gas industry gives her the opportunity to travel.

Wu is currently a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and serves on the young professionals coordinating committee in the Western Australian section. She is also a 2010 SPE regional award winner for outstanding young professional.

Wu holds a bachelor degree with honors in chemical engineering from the University of Adelaide. The petroleum engineering profession includes chemical, mechanical, civil, electrical and marine engineers, as well as those with degrees in petroleum engineering.

Read more about the New Faces of Engineering honorees for 2011 or learn more about engineering careers.