On December 1st, NEED and Shell teamed up to provide another fantastic day of energy education activities for 60 teachers from the greater Houston area. The workshop was held in the community room of the nation’s largest food donation foundation, and Feeding America’s Food Bank of the Year, the Houston Food Bank. When focusing on energy, it’s extra special to spend our day workshopping in a building that practices sustainability and puts its energy back into the community!

Teachers started off their day with a quick round of Bingo and a welcome from Karen Labat, Manager of Social Investment at Shell. Hands-on activities began with NEED’s Science of Energy as they investigated the forms of energy and how energy transforms in common items. These activities were wrapped up with a discussion about energy use in the United States and how each form of energy is embodied in the ten sources of energy we use to power our lives. Before heading to lunch, teachers then got their trivia game on with a game of Energy Enigma. Each team assumed the identity of an energy source and revealed bits of information about themselves to other teams. Each team hazarded guesses based on the little information they were given to earn points. This group had so much fun with trivia that they delayed going to lunch!!

Following lunch, teachers investigated the oil and natural gas industry with two hands-on activities that model exploration and production. In NEED’s Core Sampling investigation, teachers model the core sampling technique employed by petroleum geologists when exploring for resources below the surface. With Getting the Oil Out, teachers try to simulate the production process and the use of artificial pressure when bringing liquids to the surface. This segment of the workshop was closed with a look into the production challenges of wells over their lifetime with the game Peak Oil.

Participants then learned about the end uses of petroleum by exploring the polymers activities from NEED’s Science of Racing suite of activities. Teachers got their hands dirty and created polymerization reactions and learned about the many applications of processing petroleum to create products. Teachers also discussed and learned about how petroleum is used the racing industry, from fuels to polymers in safety gear and clothing. Teachers got a glimpse into smarter mobility by playing NEED’s Pretzel Power, a game that aims to teach students about the importance of MPG ratings in vehicles.

The day ended with a game of Energy Web, where participants discussed how one part of an energy system in homes or schools can be connected or affected by another part of the system. Conserving our energy and employing efficient technologies saves money, saves resources, and allows our systems to function together smoothly.

Thanks to the generous support of Shell, teachers who participated in the day will receive their choice of NEED Science of Energy Kit or NEED Fossil Fuels to Products Kit! It was a wonderful day to join together at the food bank and feed our energy knowledge. See you again soon, Houston!