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Essential Energy Educationissues, careers, classroom resources

Energy4me in Kazakhstan!

Author: ; Published: May 16, 2013; Category: Classroom presentations, Education outreach, Energy Education, Uncategorized; Tags: , , , ; Comments: Comments Off

When her 8-year-old son asked, “how do you make gasoline?” Aizhana, a reservoir engineer, decided it was time to get involved in energy education. Aizhana and her colleagues recently visited her son’s 3rd grade class in Astana, Kazakhstan to talk all about energy! Using some of the Energy4me presentation materials and their own demo activities, she explains, “we were trying to show them how oil is being produced. We got decorative beads, poured some coffee (oil) into the porous space. Then drilled a well with a straw and started pumping oil out of the ground.”

Here’s a small article she wrote for a local newsletter on her experience -

How would you answer these questions: “Have you ever found diamonds when drilled a well?” or “When you bring a lot of oil to the platform, how do you keep it stable?” Now, if I tell you that those are the questions asked by 8-9 years old kids, would you change or paraphrase your answer? You probably would. This is exactly what me and my colleague, Ilyas, faced when we went to my son’s class to teach a lesson on energy to 3rd graders.

The idea to go to school and teach the kids on energy came to me at the gas station. We went to fill up the tank and my son asked: “Why are you buying gasoline?  Aren’t you making it?” I started explaining what I do and how gasoline is being made, but later I thought: “What if I go to school and educate the whole class, not only my son?” I remembered, that Society of Petroleum Engineers has a program called “Energy4me.” I contacted them and came up to the slides for the talk. My colleagues got excited about this idea as well and we decided to “test” it on my son’s class and later develop a program under SPE umbrella.


So, on April 18 me, Ilyas, and one other colleague Irina went to school ready to give a presentation and demonstrate the experiment on oil production. We dressed up in coveralls, hard hat and safety glasses to create a field environment. Kids were asking all kinds of questions and stayed engaged all the time. When preparing for the lesson we were thinking about the experiment: what and how to show? One little detail that was bothering me was what we were going to use as oil. We had a lot of ideas; we wanted it to be more or less realistic in color but at the same time relatively safe. At the end of the day we picked coffee. What do you think happened when the kids came closer to look/perform the experiment? That was really funny, when they said surprisingly: “It smells like coffee!”  There were a number of interesting moments during the class. We had a very good time!

You know what was the most rewarding thing for me? That night my son came to me and said: “You are the smartest mom in the World!” I almost cried. 

Aizhana and her colleagues already have another presentation lined up, and plan to expand their outreach into Russian language and other Kazakh schools next year. Thanks for sharing Aizhana! If you would also like to share your classroom presentation experiences with Energy4me, contact us!

Teachers: Want more information about how you can request a classroom presentation? Visit our classroom resources page here!

Volunteers: Interesting in presenting to a classroom? Visit here for more information!



How Kids Teaching Kids Works in My Classroom

Author: ; Published: Oct 18, 2012; Category: Classroom materials, Energy Education; Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ; Comments: Comments Off


Guest blog by Jeannine Huffman, CTE Energy & Design Instructor, San Joaquin County Office of Education – Stockton, CA. Courtesy of The NEED Project.

How did Jeannine Huffman convince her students to not only want to learn about energy content, but remember it as well? Her strategy was kids teaching kids… read more in this fascinating blog post!

At the end of the school year my high school students know energy transformations, energy sources, and electricity generation by heart. In fact, when Pacific Gas and Electric sent a team to help students conduct an energy audit, the professionals said that our students were the only students they had ever worked with who could name every form and source of energy, each transformation, and how electricity was generated.

How did I accomplish this? I first had to convince my students at the beginning of each year to want to learn and remember the energy content.  I did this by introducing them to the Learning Pyramid. I have known about the Learning Pyramid, but have not had an opportunity to fully put its method into action until I began using NEED curriculum. I have grown more and more convinced that the Pyramid is representative of the belief that when Kids Teach Kids they retain and apply the content more effectively.

How does it work in my classroom?  I post the Learning Pyramid Chart and refer to it during class, reminding the students that our goal is to reach the top. At the bottom of the chart is Lecture 5%, so I say to my students, “If I stand up here and lecture, you will only remember 5%. In fact, you probably wonder how you are ever going to remember everything.” Student buy-in is critical and right away they see on the chart that they will only remember 10% if they read along with my lecture. As students move up the chart, adding visuals to reading and lecture, the retention increases to 20%. This affords the students a chance to tap into their meta-cognitive skills which means they are thinking about their own learning and taking personal responsibility to examine how they learn.

Demonstrations help students remember a concept but it has been suggested that they will only remember 30%.   How do I know this? When asked to explain energy transformations, or energy flow from the sun, most cannot explain the concept completely. Allowing students to discuss in groups and as a class may increase their retained knowledge up to 50%.  As a teacher you will reap rewards, and they will too, by allowing them to discuss and collaborate.  It is OK for a classroom to be noisy.  Science and technology aren’t silent.   After demonstrations and discussion about half the class can explain the energy flow well.

When students practice by doing, the retention can increase to 75%.  Through repetition, most students are able to easily explain the energy transformation. Let your students experiment, explore and work in teams. It is more work for you to set up multiple labs, but the return on the investment of teacher time is significant.  NEED’s hands-on kits (wind, solar, Science of Energy and more) come with equipment for demonstrations and experiments like the Hand Generated Flashlight that students use to see how motion energy transforms to electrical energy.  Hands-on learning always requires more investment of time in the classroom, but it pays off in student performance and classroom success.

The biggest return on the investment is when students are afforded the opportunity to teach others. This is not a surprise to NEED teachers. For example, once you became a teacher, your first lecture on electrons made much more sense and led to more personal understanding.  The same holds true for your students. Unless they can explain each step accurately, they do not really understand the concept. What a perfect way to assess your students on the spot! The work that goes into preparing to teach a class prepares students for energy presentations and other academic presentations they will give throughout the year. It is an effective, and fun, way to bring important concepts about energy out of the classroom and into the community.  Teach each other, teach others.

What is the gain by taking extra classroom time for every student to teach each other? A whopping 90%.  I believe it! There is a great deal of satisfaction in observing them as they teach and as I assess them informally.  Once students are trained in this method, they know they do not leave the classroom until they have taught others. By the time the student teams have practiced and presented lessons, they have heard the concepts better than they ever expected.  Moreover, students seem to compete with one another to see who can give the best presentation! The classroom becomes a truly cooperative learning space and students all pay better attention, are more engaged and accountability and responsibility for learning skyrockets.  One freshman, who was struggling to grasp a concept after several attempts to explain, finally had an AH HA! moment and said, “I will never forget this!” This is what a teacher lives for!

To embed this knowledge, I reinforce regularly in a playful way. Out of the blue I will say, “I just heard a noise outside who can trace that energy flow from the sun?” Hands shoot up as students have become very aware of energy around them.

This about this:  I was talking with my niece about teaching electrolytes in my chemistry class. My niece said, “I memorized what the definition of an electrolyte was and passed my chemistry class last year, but I can’t even tell you what it is now.” This statement disturbed me. How many of us are good at memorizing facts but still don’t know how to apply that knowledge? Teach them to teach and they will never forget!

I love the NEED curriculum.  But it is only recently that I have come to realize the importance of the motto, “Kids Teaching Kids.” It was not until I had firsthand experience with the Learning Pyramid that see and know how well it works.

Learn more about the NEED project at

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Save Money, Be Energy Efficient!

Author: ; Published: Sep 13, 2012; Category: Education outreach, Energy, Energy Education; Tags: , , ; Comments: Comments Off

Did you know that a typical American family spends nearly $2,000 per year on their home energy bills? With much of that money, however, is wasted on air leaks and drafts- accoring to Here’s a new blog post courtesy of the site!


With fall right around the corner — and cooler temperatures on their way — we are relaunching our website with fresh updates that will help you and your family save money by saving energy.

Our Energy Saver site is well known for practical tips and advice on making homes more energy efficient, but we’re adding a new feature called “Savings Projects” — articles with easy, step-by-step, do-it-yourself instructions to home energy efficiency improvements that will save you money. The first two projects, which focus on caulking and weatherstripping, explain how to seal air leaks around windows and door frames, with information on the expected costs and the time needed to complete each project. Each one will provide visitors to the site with low-cost ways to lower their energy bills.

Energy Saver Tips, one of the site’s most popular features, offers practical ideas for reducing household energy consumption — such as using a programmable thermostat to reduce heating and cooling bills or upgrading light bulbs to save money. The site also provides information about local tax credits, rebates and energy efficiency financing that may be available in your community. 

As part of this upgrade, we’ve also incorporated into our platform, which will give it more visibility and make it easier to access important Energy Saver content from throughout the agency’s website. 

The bottom line is this: saving energy saves you money. In many cases, families can cut their energy bills by as much as 20 or 30 percent by making energy efficiency upgrades like the ones found on And don’t forget to bookmark the site, because we’ll continue to add new “Savings Projects” and other valuable information that will help you and your family save money by saving energy.

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Visit a Petroleum Museum… They Tell Fascinating Stories!

Author: ; Published: Sep 6, 2012; Category: Classroom materials, Energy Education, Volunteering; Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ; Comments: Comments Off

Want to enhance your knowledge of the petroleum industry? How about a petroleum museum! At the museums, watch history come to life with interactive displays, informative guides, and live demonstrations. Some even have specific, focused, elementary, middle and high school educational tours. From Calgary to France to West Virginia, petroleum museums tell fascinating stories of oil discovery, production, to showcasing some of the modern uses of oil you might not know about.

For instance, at the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s Energy exhibit, the Exploration gallery features the latest techniques used to search for hydrocarbons, from magnetometers and gravimeters to seismic vibrator trucks. In the Geology in the Field interactive, gaze across a barren, mountainous landscape, and watch as holographic illusions of two petroleum geologists materialize and explain what they are doing in the middle of nowhere. A massive Vibroseis truck interrupts them, sending its booming vibrations deep into the rock below.

At the Indonesian Oil and Gas Museum, the exhibits display how important the role of oil and gas is as the source of energy, for fuel, lubricants and petrochemical products. There’s even an oil tree that symbolically displays at its branches various products resulting from the refinery processes of oil and gas.

Check out our full petroleum museum listings HERE. Have plans to attend one on the list? Share your experience with us by Joining the conversation on Facebook— You can also connect with us on Twitter at!  

SPE Pittsburgh Section Visits Local School, Talks Energy

Author: ; Published: Apr 5, 2012; Category: Uncategorized; Tags: , , , ; Comments: Comments Off

Recently, Amanda Farr of the SPE Pittsburgh Section was asked to visit a local school, Braddock Hills Middle, to talk energy.  Braddock Hills is a Propel Charter School in the Pittsburgh area that allows students an alternative to typical public school. For some of their lessons, they look for people in the community who can relate to what they are studying in the classroom to bring the concepts home. One of the school’s science classes has been studying energy over the last few weeks: focusing mostly on green energy such as wind and solar power.

Educating, volunteering are foundations of the Energy4me program.

Because the students had so many questions about oil and gas, the science advisor envisioned someone in the industry coming in to speak to the class regarding facts about wind and solar power energy. Enter Amanda.

“I was excited about the opportunity to visit Braddock Hills and growing the outreach activities in the Pittsburgh area,” said Amanda. “Very exciting.”

After meeting with both the science coordinator and advisor, a plan was developed regarding the student presentation that would not only answer the students’ questions, but also provide them with valuable industry information that could use and apply. 

It was decided to spend half of the time explaining to the students about what certain engineers do and the other half talking about drilling for oil and gas. 

Amanda explained to the students what her role and responsibilities were for her job as a wireline field engineer for a service company. The students were very interested to hear about how Amanda has experience working on oil rigs and the value of an electrical engineering degree in the petroleum industry. 

During the presentation, Amanda wore coveralls, boots and a hard hat while passing out several of her tools for the students to hold and view. Once she explained what she did in the field, Amanda spoke about how one of the first oil wells was drilled near Pittsburgh, in Titusville, PA. Equally interested, the science advisor was excited to hear she went to college near the first oil well much to her amazement! 

Amanda went in-depth with the students about how wells were drilled, how they used seismic logging to figure out approximately where oil and gas fields are, and showed a few animations that explained hydraulic fracturing. 

“Overall, I think we all had a lot of fun and learned something in the process,” said Amanda. “I’m glad I had the opportunity to reach out to the community, diffuse some misconceptions and show both students and educators what the industry is all about here in the northeast.” 

Want to get involved? Interested in volunteering some capacity? There are many opportunities available: 

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