Most oil and gas professionals agree that our industry would benefit if the public had a better understanding of energy topics. Young professionals (YPs) can play an important role in this effort.
TWA’s energy education survey showed that 82% of SPE members believe that classroom presentations are the most effective way to educate the public about energy topics. Mobilizing SPE’s 90,000 members globally to make energy-related presentations is a cornerstone of the Energy4me program. YPs are especially needed as classroom speakers because students relate best to someone closer to their own age.
Energy4me is SPE’s global energy-education outreach program offering factual, unbiased resources to preuniversity students, teachers, and the public through speaker programs, teacher-development resources, and the energy4me.org website. Energy4me answers such important questions as: How much oil is left? Is petroleum engineering the career for me? How do the different energy sources compare with each other? And how does energy impact our daily lives?
The easiest way for members to get involved is by speaking in their own family member’s classroom or at a school in their neighborhood. As a YP, you could begin by speaking at the secondary school you attended. Several YP groups have taken the lead on coordinating larger educational outreach efforts for their sections. The vast majority of SPE members who have visited classrooms have found it was a positive, rewarding experience and are willing to do so again.
Energy4me makes presentation preparations easy. The Energy4me Kit includes a speaker’s guide, ready-to-go presentations, videos, and interactive classroom activities for primary, intermediate, and secondary students. Kit materials are available for free download from energy4me.org in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. A physical kit is also available in English for purchase. Each SPE section received a complimentary kit in January 2009 for members to use, and some sections have ordered more copies. Members are encouraged to personalize and localize the presentations.
Whenever an SPE member gives a classroom presentation, SPE donates to the school a copy of our Oil and Natural Gas educational book. This hardback book is colorfully illustrated and filled with short descriptions of the history and uses for oil, and how it shapes our world. Contact Energy4me with your presentation details 3 weeks before the event, and Energy4me will send you the book to give to the school. Educators can download free lesson plans that accompany the book on Energy4me.org, encouraging use of the book throughout the school year. The book is available in English, French, and Spanish, and will soon be available in Arabic, Chinese, and Russian.
SPE student chapters can also get involved in energy education by encouraging preuniversity students to pursue petroleum engineering at the university level. Participating in university career fairs or visiting their own secondary schools are easy ways to reach younger students. Energy4me provides members with free career brochures in quantities of up to 100 for these types of activities.
Oil and Natural Gas books and Energy4me Kits are available for purchase at energy4me.org. Many SPE sections and corporations have purchased these materials to give to their local educators or students. Corporations have also purchased the book for nontechnical or new employees. Several museums, such as the Houston Museum of Natural Science, are selling the book in their gift shops.
Energy4me is working on the next phase of SPE membership participation, which includes a program for SPE members to share the Energy4me program with school administrators.
Visit www.energy4me.org for more information or to learn ways to participate in energy-education outreach. You can be a powerful influence by talking with your friends, neighbors, and future energy professionals about why you joined the industry and how your work makes a difference in one of the most important challenges of our time—providing the energy the world needs.