GREENFIELD — Students from Vista Verde Middle School recently learned about energy and the technologies and sciences involved with the oil and natural gas industry through a special visit from the Mobile Offshore Learning Units (MOLU) program.
Sponsored by Aera Energy, the local MOLU visit on Oct. 24 consisted of six self-contained components with curriculum-based, hands-on learning activities. More than 190 sixth graders rotated through the exhibits with the help of Aera employees, who assisted students as they engaged with the activities.
“Aera Energy was pleased to sponsor the Mobile Oilfield Learning Unit from Houston, Texas, for sixth graders at Vista Verde Middle School,” said Kathy Miller, Aera public affairs coordinator. “This engaging exhibit is curriculum-based and provides students with hands-on activities about energy and the technologies and science involved with the oil and gas industry. The students especially enjoyed the robotic arm and looking at microorganisms.”
The MOLU program is a $1.2 million traveling educational exhibit about energy concepts developed by the Offshore Energy Center in Houston, Texas. The curriculum for each of the exhibit’s 24 activities is correlated to the Next Generation National Science Standards for grades 5 through 8.
Pre- and post-visit materials accompany the units to enhance the learning experience. Miller said the learning stations include the various elements of each particular activity and accompanying materials.
The mobile unit accommodates up to 48 students rotating through the exhibit every 90 minutes. Students receive a “MOLU Pass” with questions that correlate to all 24 activities on the six learning stations they complete during their rotation.
Miller said the MOLU visit enhances the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum necessary to replenish oil industry jobs.
“Our hope is to ignite in students a desire to learn in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math,” she explained. “We also want them to learn about our industry and the important role oil production plays in their everyday lives.”
Aera Energy is a California oil company that accounts for nearly 25 percent of the state’s oil production, with headquarters in Bakersfield and oil field operations centered in Kern County.
Aera also has active oil field operations in Ventura, Monterey and Fresno counties and has begun the permitting process to redevelop the East Cat Canyon oilfield in northern Santa Barbara County.
According to Tony Amezcua, family and community engagement representative for Greenfield Union School District, the Mobile Oilfield Learning Unit is a unique opportunity for students to experience STEM in a hands-on environment.
“We would love for many of our graduates to go on into STEM careers, and this shows them the many possibilities for that dream within the energy, oil and gas industries,” Amezcua said.