Working with K-12 Teachers
Our current education programs at the Center for Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering (CPGE) focus on professional development for K-12 teachers in Texas. To increase awareness and understanding of the petroleum engineering field, especially among kids and teenagers, one of the best resources is teachers. Our summer institutes and programs on petroleum science and technology are designed with this concept in mind.
Our efforts began in 2009 as a one-week collaborative program between CPGE and the Jackson School of geosciences (JSG) as part of a National Science Foundation teacher professional development program at The University of Texas at Austin, TeXas Earth and Space Science (TXESS) Revolution. By leveraging other funding to CPGE and JSG from the Department of Energy-sponsored Sequestration Training, Outreach, Research and Education (STORE) Alliance, we have expanded to cover themes on energy and related topics with formats ranging from two-week institutes to afternoon symposia for Texas educators.
Faculty Dedication to our Programs
As an example of faculty dedication: Dr. Carlos Torres-Verdin (CPGE) and his wife Laurel Trevino opened up their LEED platinum certified house, Tonalacalli ("House of Sun and Water" in the Nahuatl language of Mexico), for a kick-off dinner and energy efficiency and sustainable materials tour of their home for teacher and faculty of a recent summer institute on "Energy, Climate and Water in the 21st Century."
An important aspect of many of our programs is the presence of education evaluators as part of the project. Historically, our evaluated programs show greater than 95% increase in teachers' content knowledge and improvement in their confidence level. These successes allow the teachers to bring back hands-on, energy-related activities and create excitement in the classroom.
For example, their students can learn how many British Thermal Units (BTUs) it takes to heat water for a typical teenage shower. And to make that relevant, the kids have to create their own mechanical power plant by lifting and dropping sacks of potatoes. Imagine kids coming home and changing their behavior because they now have a more concrete understanding of their energy use! Find out more about the potato power video and activity.
For more information on any of these programs, contact the Director of Education, Training and Outreach, Dr. Hilary Olson at 512-653-8356 or firstname.lastname@example.org.