Julie McGuire, an eighth-grade science teacher at McDowell Exchange in the Logan Elm School District, recently attended a workshop on energy education. The workshop, “The Teacher Academies”, was presented by the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) and was held in New Philadelphia, Ohio, providing Ohio science teachers from 37 Ohio counties with “insight into real-world applications of STEM and geology lesson plans.”
“The workshop helped teachers connect Ohio science educational requirements to an energy industry that has significant impact to the state and all Ohioans,” according to OOGEEP. “McGuire, a science educator from Logan Elm School and McDowell Middle School, participated in a workshop held in New Philadelphia. Other workshops were held in Marietta and Toledo. OOGEEP’s curriculum, titled STEM Lessons in Oil and Gas Energy Education, included lesson plans and hands-on science labs. The curriculum demonstrates the importance of STEM in areas such as geology, physical science, environmental science, engineering, and chemistry, among other areas, and why they play an important role in energy development.”
McGuire, of Laurelville, says the two-day workshop was very educational.
“The first day was spent in a classroom setting. Participants were given a book with lessons that follow the Ohio Science Standards, and the presenters from OOGEEP walked us through a few lessons.
The participants were divided into groups and we chose a lesson to explore and then taught the rest of the groups. By doing this activity, we were able to learn about eight lessons from the geology curriculum book,” said McGuire. “The second day of the workshop was a field trip day at Kimble Company Complex, Vanport Limestone Pit, and Spooky Hollow Pit of Allegheny Shales and Coal. Kimble is a limestone mining and crushing facility that uses the mined land as a landfill, then restores the land. We also toured a working strip coal mine. A third stop of the day was a rock quarry where we spent time looking at and collecting fossils.”
The STEM/geology focused workshop was designed to “help foster energy education by connecting science and geology to the energy industry” by “providing teachers with multiple hands-on learning stations, a forum to share best practices on how they educate their students, and an opportunity to participate in a variety of related field trips.”
“Some of the activities that I will use in my classroom from the OOGEEP workshop include differentiation of Earth’s layers and how seismic waves are used to find out about Earth’s interior, and continental drift and plate tectonics activities, which includes fossil puzzles of the continents, plate movement using Milky way candy bars, and a seafloor spreading model with polar reversals and rock ages.”
The workshop was provided free-of-charge to Ohio teachers “through the generosity of Ohio’s oil and gas producers,” according to OOGEEP.
“In addition, all attendees received a wide variety of free resource materials, lab supplies, lesson plans, posters, maps, rock and mineral kits, science standards, benchmark connections, internet resources and activities that can be utilized directly in their classroom,” OOGEEP stated. “The workshops also included guest speakers and field visits to Ohio sites such as the Oregon Clean Energy Center’s Natural Gas Fire Plant, Ken Miller Supply’s pipe yard, Kimble’s Geological Complex, as well as stops at several Antero Resources’ sites including a drilling rig, hydraulic fracturing site, and horizontal production pad.”
McGuire says she is appreciative of the free resources she was given during the workshop.
“I received a 30 rock sample kit, a 21 mineral sample kit, many geology books and pamphlets,” she said. “I found out about this workshop by attending the SECO conference, which is a conference for science teachers that was held at Lewis Center.”
Throughout the year, OOGEEP, a “non-profit statewide education and public outreach program”, provides support and programs to educators, and also sponsors State Science Day awards and provides annual scholarships for students pursuing a career in the oil and gas industry.”
STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) is “important to education today,” said McGuire.
“So many careers depend on these disciplines, and the students I have today are our future,” she said. “My job is to prepare them to be a valuable part of our workforce.”
To provide the best education to her students, McGuire says it is essential she is a “learner” as well.
“Geology is an important part of my curriculum ... Attending workshops such as the OOGEEP Geology, I learn new and enjoyable lessons to use in my classroom,” she said. “Using these lessons in my classroom adds fresh, hands-on activities that meet my curriculum, help students’ understanding of the material, and, ultimately, improves test scores.”
While McGuire, a teacher of 24 years (22 years in the Logan Elm School District) says she is not sure if her classroom is “unique,” she says what sets it apart is that she truly loves her job and imparting knowledge to her students.
“Every day is enjoyable and rewarding. I started my career at Logan Elm, teaching kindergarten. I have taught first grade, fifth and sixth grade science, and now eighth-grade science. I feel that my experience in the lower grades has helped me differentiate my lessons, which is beneficial to meet the needs of all of my students and make learning fun,” said McGuire. “I have also learned that if I am having fun and enjoy what I am teaching, the students will like it and will retain the information at a higher level. My overall goal of teaching is to instill lifelong learning in my students and to inspire them to reach their highest potential.”