West Liberty Elementary Students Learn About Natural Gas Industry

Interactive traveling exhibit passes through West Liberty Elementary

Photo by Scott McCloskey West Liberty Elementary 4th grade student Bella Sayre participates in a hands-on science based activity in the school gymnasium Tuesday.

With the natural gas industry so prevalent to the region, students at West Liberty Elementary had a unique opportunity Tuesday to learn about energy and the technologies and sciences involved with the industry through a ‘hands-on” traveling exhibit.

Sponsored locally by Southwestern Energy and Williams, the Mobile Oilfield Learning Unit exhibit with the Oilfield Energy Center, based in Houston, Texas, brought science and technology alive for the fourth and fifth grade students inside the school gymnasium. The exhibit provided students the opportunity to participate in hands-on science based activities at six self-contained learning stations with 24 different activities.

Whether learning about different energy sources, seismology, oil viscosity, or making a “microfossil rubbing,” the students were excited to learn more about a industry that has become much more predominant in their own community in recent years, according to School Principal Stacy Dietz.

“This is giving them hands on project based learning,” Dietz said. She said the learning stations allows the students to discover the oil and gas industry process.

“I’m listening to the student lead conversations as I’m walking around, and they are really getting a lot out of this.”

While the curriculum is correlated to the Next Generation National Science Standards for grades five through eight, it is also appropriate for other age groups, according to the Oilfield Energy Center website.

Southwestern Energy Community Relations Manager Amy Dobkin said company officials not only want students in the community to better understand the natural gas industry, but to one day maybe consider a career in an industry that has such a presence in the local workforce.

“Natural gas is being developed below our feet here in Ohio County, so this is an educational tool that teaches kids about all aspects of natural gas — from the history and how it was formed, to how we find it beneath the earth, how we drill for it … the whole gamut of natural gas production,” she added.

The MOLU exhibit is scheduled to make stops at several other grade schools in Ohio County this week, including Bethlehem Elementary and Woodsdale Elementary.

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