Explaining Science With Ten Hundred Words!


Ask an engineer what they do for a living and sometimes you’ll get a mouthful of jargon and very little understanding of what he or she actually studies.

That’s where the “Ten Hundred Words of Science” challenge comes in. Inspired by internet comic artist Randall Munroe, who recently used only the 1,000 most common words in the English language to describe the Saturn V rocket, scientists from every field are now experimenting with this limited word list to explain their own work.

Go HERE to view parse impenetrable scientific terminology into everyday language when describing complex science!

One example is the web comic panel “The Up-Goer Five” shown as a snapshot below. In this annotated blueprint, he describes each piece of the complex rocket that took American astronauts to the moon, eliminating complicated technical terms in favor of explanations everyone can understand.

Cool stuff!


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The Switch Energy Project – Building Awareness Through Energy Education

Energy is the most important issue of our time.

It impacts the economy, the environment, food and water, population, everything. To understand these challenges, we first need to understand energy.

The Switch Energy Project began in 2008 when documentary filmmaker Harry Lynch met geologist Dr. Scott Tinker through another film project. The two agreed on the incredible importance of energy awareness and efficiency, and in 2009 set out to make a film that explored our energy future, and made the world of energy fascinating and relevant to the general viewer.

Over the following three years of production and editing, the goals for the project expanded to include the video library, the university and primary education programs, and eventually a TV/web series, all delivered and organized on Visit the site for videos, movie screenings dates, trailers and an abundance of energy education.

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Hands-On or Hands-Off… Which is More Beneficial to Students?

There are different ways to teach. Each student learns differently and there is no right or wrong way. The goal is that the subject matter resonates and that the student understands. That being said, we took a short survey here at Energy4me posing the question “Hands-On or Hands-Off” regarding the best way information resonates and/or assists one in understanding the material.

The results are in… 100% of the participants selected “Hands-On.” Though it is not a total representation of students across the world, it’s a general consensus amongst people in our network that hands-on works the best. That speaks to us. That speaks to teachers.

As we venture deeper into the 21st century, where the availability of information is so readily available thanks to the technical age we live in with Google and other search engines/aids on our smartphones and tablets, it’s important now more than ever to reinforce visuals and things we can hold in our hands as valuable, teachable tools. Maybe instead of just showing that 3D map of where the state capitals and countries are, how about we bring out a globe and let the students twirl it and place stickers and pins on those places; or even a visit to their state capital where they can sit-in on a court proceeding. Instead of only watching a video about animal tendencies and features, that we take them to a zoo where they can see and hold animals and vegetation in their hands?

Instead of only looking at pictures of technology exhibits and new innovations, how about we take them to places like the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) where they can touch, stand on and get expert insight from the person that built the technology… wouldn’t that help?

Fortunately, we have teachers like you that continue to realize hands-on is not just a chance to get out of the classroom and from behind a book: it’s a chance for students to write their own… with hands-on knowledge.

Energy4me employs the 5E instructional model.This model is a teaching sequence that can be used for entire programs, specific units and individual lessons. Energy4me lesson plans support the 5E constructivist learning cycle, helping students build their own understanding from experiences and new ideas.

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Is Technology Changing our Brains?

By Marva Morrow

For better or worse, technology is here to stay! Everything we do causes changes in the brain and the things we do a lot are most likely to cause long term changes. What is unclear is how modern technology influences the brain and the consequences this has.

According to an article published in, brain researcher Susan Greenfield claims, “’mind change’ as a result of using modern technology is one of humanity’s greatest threats. I haven’t met one parent or teacher who doesn’t think we should be talking about this. Just restricting children’s access to the internet isn’t very helpful. Instead, I would ask: What can we offer children that is even more compelling, fulfilling, exciting? We should be planning a 3D environment for our children [to enjoy] instead of putting them in front of a 2D one.” *1

Energy4me lesson plans support the 5E constructivist learning cycle, helping students build their own understanding from experiences and new ideas.

Through many studies based on brain research, educators have explored links between classroom teaching and emerging theories about how people learn. Exciting discoveries in neuroscience and continued developments in cognitive psychology have presented new ways of thinking about the brain-the human neurological structure and the attendant perceptions and emotions that contribute to learning. *2

Based on brain research, technology provides opportunities to use such important science of learning principles as pre-existing knowledge, active learning, mental models, transfer, and learning for understanding. A list of disconnected facts doesn’t lead to deep understanding or to easy transfer of knowledge from one situation to another. However, knowledge that is organized and connected around important concepts and mastery, which includes being able to visualize a concept, does lead to transfer and deeper, longer understanding.

“Because many new technologies are interactive, it is now easier to create environments in which students can learn by doing, receive feedback, and continually refine their understanding and build new knowledge,” according to How People Learn. The new technologies can also help people visualize difficult-to-understand concepts.

The verdict is in: The Brain can and does change! Technology is and will continue to have changing effects on our brains. Educators are understanding the importance of being able to transfer knowledge from one context to another and that it is “better to ‘broadly educate’ people than simply ‘train’ them to perform particular tasks.” Students cannot achieve high levels of performance without access to skilled professional teachers, adequate classroom time, a rich array of learning materials and the resources of the the communities surrounding their schools. Learning science is something that students must do through “hands-on” and “minds on” activities.

Stay in the know, LIKE Energy4me on Facebook or FOLLOW us on Twitter!  Get involved and be a part of the interactive change in education!                                                         



*1 Oxford scientist calls for research on technology ‘mind change’, Tuesday 14 September 2010.*2 Edutopia, Brain-Based Research Prompts Innovative Teaching Techniques in the Classroom Educators explore nontraditional methods of teaching and receive positive results. By Diane Curtis.* 3  How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. First published in 1999 and written by a  committee of scholars established by the National Research Council

Going From STEM to STEAM — The Arts Have a Role in America’s Future, Too

Joseph Piro, Education Week

In education circles, STEM—the teaching of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—has been gathering, for want of a better descriptor, “alpha” status. Not only has President Barack Obama announced a $250 million public-private initiative to recruit and train more STEM teachers, but also the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top Fund grants competition is giving bonus points for applications that stress STEM instruction.

This funding is on top of the nearly $700 million the federal government already spends on science and math education programs within the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, and other agencies. Factor in what’s earmarked by individual states for STEM and a picture emerges of where a lot of tax money is rightfully going.

This generous support is being allocated in the belief (or fear) that the United States is becoming less competitive and secure, that we are losing our global-leader status in STEM fields and being eclipsed by other countries, mostly in Asia.

Yet, in the midst of all the STEM frenzy, we may want to do something riskier, and more imaginative, to save the country: turn STEM funding into STEAM funding. Inserting the letter A, for the arts, into the acronym could afford us even greater global advantage.

Many may be puzzled by this statement, considering that the arts have held a traditionally marginalized place in both American society and the school curriculum. And, in the eyes of some, support for the arts has a dubious payback, especially in areas of national concern such as defense, homeland security, and technology. The arts are something we do when we stop being serious. Friday afternoons spent drawing turkeys, pumpkins, and valentines in more classrooms than one might think can attest to this.

But just consider the following. A 2008 study from the National Endowment for the Arts, “Artists in the Workforce,” showed that individuals involved in the arts represent a sizable branch of the labor force, only slightly smaller than the total number of active-duty and reserve personnel in the U.S. military. What may also be surprising to some is that artists make up a larger occupational group than lawyers, medical doctors, or agricultural workers. The size of the artistic community gives it an astonishing $70 billion aggregate annual income. The country’s $316 billion communication and entertainment business employs a diverse range of artists, including musicians, actors, filmmakers, videographers, and architects. It is probably safe to say that most of these people prepared for their careers by participating in some sort of arts education program…


Joseph Piro is an associate professor of curriculum and instruction in the school of education at Long Island University’s C.W. Post campus, in Brookville, N.Y.

Teachers, what do you think?

First Annual “New Faces of Engineering College Edition” Winners!

The National Engineers Week Foundation and partners honor top college engineering students by recognizing the most promising engineering professionals of tomorrow with their first annual New Faces of Engineering College Edition program.

Fifteen engineering students in their third, fourth, or fifth year were selected. Winners are recognized for academic excellence, leadership within student organizations, outstanding communication skills, non-engineering related community service and involvement in the engineering industry.

Moustafa Ezzat, a 5th year student from the British University in Egypt and student member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), was among the winners.

Since 2003, National Engineers Week Foundation has honored young engineering professionals with its New Faces of Engineering award.  This is the first year the popular initiative has expanded to recognize the best and brightest college engineering students.

Congratulations Moustafa Ezzat!

New Faces of Engineering College Edition is live on Facebook (  The page provides a source of academic and professional development opportunities available to students from National Engineers Week Foundation’s engineering association, university, and corporate partners.  Students can meet with their engineering peers in every field and learn about other events, internships, jobs, competitions, engineering associations and more.

Funding for New Faces of Engineering College Edition is provided by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). For more information, visit

Learn more about engineering careers.

SPE Dallas Section Hosts Science Teacher Barnett Shale Field Trip!

The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Dallas section took local science teachers on a Barnett Shale field trip Thursday, November 18, 2011.

The tour started off at the Ellison Miles Geotechnology Institute (EMGI) where Dallas section members Toni Lott, Brad Robinson, Deborah Hempel-Medina, Brian Chacka, and Patrick Crawford made a presentation covering the history of Oil and Natural Gas, Geology and the History of Barnett Shale, Drilling a well, and Hydraulic Fracturing. Teachers were engaged in the presentations and asked the presenters a lot of questions to get a better understanding of the industry and how they could relay the information to their students in the classroom.

After the overview, everyone was styling in their safety gear as they prepared to go out into the field. Each participant wore steeled toed boots, fire retardant overalls, safety glasses, ear plugs, and hard hats. The teachers were able to visit three sites where they learned firsthand about safety, advance technologies, and rules and regulations all involved in operating each site. The sites teachers visited are listed as follows.

  • Williams Company Drilling Site
  • Devon Energy Hydraulic Fracturing Site
  • Chesapeake Learning Center

After a full day of touring, teachers headed back to the Dallas Convention Center full of knowledge about the industry, their hard hat as a souvenir, and information to take back to their classrooms that included an “Oil and Natural Gas” book.

This workshop was made possible by the Ellison Miles Geotechnology Institute, Society of Petroleum Engineers-Dallas Section, Halliburton Energy Services, Williams Company, Devon Energy Company, Baker-Hughes Oilfield Services and Chesapeake Energy.

Energy4me and the Society of Petroleum Engineers want to thank everyone involved.

Learn more about careers in the industry.

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!

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.