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 (www.need.org) 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 www.need.org!