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Energy Days to sparkle next month

Article in Feb. 6, 2009 edition of The Bruin by David Austin

The Bartlesville Community Center will be crackling with life next month.

The annual Energy Days event will be held in the BCC ballroom from March 24-26. An education program which is now in its 12th year, Energy Days gives area fifth-grade students hands-on insight into a wide array of energy sources, from oil to solar to wind. The youngsters wind from station to station over a two-hour period learning about everything from refinement to cleanup to the various uses of a wide array of products.

"There was an article recently in a national science teachers magazine," notes Becky Hoover, the director of Energy Days. "It said informal settings can boost science learning, such as going to museums and taking part in hands-on activities.

"Events like Energy Days can provide a lot of ‘aha’ moments for students."

Fifth graders from all seven elementary sites within the Bartlesville Public School District will take part in this year’s Energy Days event. Other districts represented will include Dewey, Nowata, Barnsdall Skiatook, Copan, Bowring, Osage Hills, Oklahoma Union and Sedan (Kan.) as well as all of the private schools.

"The feedback for Energy Days is very good," says Hoover. "The teachers really appreciate this. I hear from the students, also.

"The reason I continue this every year is because of the teachers and the students. As long as they continue to want it, I will continue to try to provide it."

Hoover spent 16 years working within the Bartlesville Public School District, both as a teacher and a science specialist. Once she retired, she helped to create Energy Days. The event is made possible thanks to its chief sponsor – ConocoPhillips – and an estimated 250 volunteers. A large portion of the volunteer base is comprised of current and retired ConocoPhillips employees as well as some former educators.

Other sponsors include the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Zachry Construction Corporation and the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board.

The 10 exhibitions at this year’s Energy Days event will include the Petroleum Scavenger Hunt; Science of the Underground; Tools of the Trade; Oil Meets Water; Petroleum IQ; Petroleum Mix and Match; Rock Lab; Good Vibrations; Alternate Energy; and Hot Spots. In the Rock Lab, youngsters learn about the kinds of rocks in which oil can be found. The Hot Spots area offers insight as to how electricians – using infrared technology – can discover “hot spots” on the edges of oil tanks, thereby preventing potential disasters.

More than 950 students are expected to take part in Energy Days this year. The schedule calls for 16 classes to take part in the event each day – from Tuesday through Thursday – eight in the morning and eight more in the afternoon. The morning sessions run from 9:30-11:30 a.m. while the afternoon sessions span from noon to 2 p.m.

Once the fifth-graders arrive in the Bartlesville Community Center ballroom for Energy Days, they will be able to circulate through each of the 10 exhibitions. Volunteers work the stations where students can learn about different aspects of science in a hands-on and interactive environment.

Hoover has directed the Energy Days event since its debut in 1997 as part of the Oklahoma Energy Centennial in Bartlesville. The program proved so popular that Hoover decided to fashion it into an annual event. The only year since then that hasn’t featured an Energy Days event was 2004, during which Hoover was recovering from back surgery.

"We hope Energy Days will continue into the foreseeable future," says Hoover. "It’s a great event."

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