School is in session, but there is no doubt that it looks vastly different this year for parents, students and teachers alike due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Education continues shifting from all virtual, to all in-person, or hybrid models with many variations in between. But what has not changed is the ongoing dedication to science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEM/STEAM) learning where schools, teachers, and nonprofit organizations continue to engage technology to bridge the gap for continued learning.
During these uncertain times, the oil and gas industry has stepped forward to help educators engage their students in STEM/STEAM experiences in many virtual ways, not only to supplement hands-on learning with more social distance-friendly activities, but also to utilize technology as both the platform and as a learning opportunity aimed to inspire.
Some examples of the creative thinking by our industry to keep students engaged come from California Resources Corporation (CRC) and Aera Energy:
- CRC is a proud partner of the Boys & Girls Club and local chapters throughout California in support of their dedication to providing essential services all year long, but especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- To accommodate social distancing and shelter-in-place requirements, CRC partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of the Santa Clara Valley in Ventura County to help them provide virtual educational support to the children they serve. Site directors launched a new program on their online channels by utilizing green screens to film educational videos for kids, allowing children to continue to learn while at home using online and social media channels.
- For the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bakersfield, CRC employees have developed an exciting, hands on Geology Club educational program for students ages 8-12. Through these six-week program lesson plans, young students learn about California’s geology, earth history, mineralogy, earthquakes, petroleum geology and fossils. Although CRC volunteers are unable to administer the lessons themselves this year due to COVID-19, the B&G Club staff are executing the lesson plans directly to several small, socially distanced groups of students at a time.
- Aera continues to help students learn geology through simulations about porosity and permeability, demonstrating how the company drills for oil using cupcakes and straws. In the process, this curriculum teaches important lessons about safety through an up-close look and by trying on personal protective equipment. Lessons for high school and college students also provide information on careers in energy shared by one of Aera’s more than 500 employee ambassadors.
Teachers, non-profits and industry ambassadors are vital to helping inspire the next generation of innovators, and we are proud to see STEM/STEAM education continue during these challenging times. In the weeks ahead, we will share more work from our member companies that is readying the students of today for the industry careers of tomorrow.