Impact the Next Generation!

For the last ten or so years, we have been hearing a loud call from companies, economic development administrators, and workforce leaders regarding the need for skilled employees in STEM fields to feed the future of STEM industries and our communities. Energy Day Festival and EDAP have answered with an arsenal of tools and resources to support bright young minds and the adults helping to shape their future.

A thriving STEM workforce starts with exposure and engagement long before students prepare for college. This begins in multiple places:

  • In the elementary classroom, with passionate and empowered educators who have access to the necessary materials to teach STEM in an effective and FUN way
  • In businesses, with industry leaders actively working and volunteering their time, resources, and funds, while directly engaging in their communities
  • In homes, with parents who are equipped to provide opportunities for their children

We are all very important pieces in this STEM/Industry equation, and Energy Day is an excellent way for all of us to come together and make a significant impact. The 7th Annual Energy Day Festival is on Saturday, October 21, 2017, at Sam Houston Park in downtown Houston, Texas from 11am-4pm.

More than 23,000 people attended Energy Day 2016. Energy Day provides a great opportunity to engage with the community and do all of the above-mentioned things. We hope you are able to participate and that you will help spread the word to colleagues, friends, and family. Check out the Energy Day story on, and watch our video.

Paige Moore

Paige Moore graduated Valedictorian from Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy (YWCPA), an Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) school, in 2016, and she is currently attending Smith College in Massachusetts.

She was active in community service, science, and leadership oriented activities at Young Women’s. In the summer of 2016, she interned at Texas Children’s Hospital to research a vaccine. She is now an AEMES (Achieving Excellence in Mathematics, Engineering and Sciences) Scholar and will be conducting research with a faculty member at her new school, Smith College. Paige is optimistic and enthusiastic about starting her new journey.

Paige’s Academic Accomplishments:

  • Interned at Baylor College of Medicine to do research (2015-2016)
  • VEX Robotics (2012-2016)
  • Goodwill Industries of Houston Volunteer Work, helped homeless veterans (2012-2016)
  • EMERGE College Readiness Program (2012-2016)
  • Houston ISD District Science Fair (2013-2015)

Jeffrey (Jaewoo) Heo

Jeffrey (Jaewoo) Heo is currently (2016) a junior attending school at Seoul International School, South Korea. He moved from Korea to Singapore, where he lived for a year and attended an international school for the first time in 2nd grade. While living in Singapore became comfortable with the English language.

Although his parents both majored in non-science subjects, he was always fascinated by technological developments; inventions or discoveries that benefitted the well-being of mankind especially appealed to his interests. He is greatly motivated to find a way to replace fossil fuels with solar technology after he took the opportunity to study extensively on solar technology.

Academic Achievements:

Freshman, Sophomore Year High Honor Student

Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference (KAIAC) Science Olympiad Bronze Medalist for Chemistry (2015)

Korea Science and Engineering Fair (KSEF) 2nd Place for Engineering Category (2016)

Princeton University Physics Competition 2016 Honorable Mentions

Google Science Fair 2016 Regional Finalist

ISWEEEP 2016 Gold Medalist at Energy Category, Grand Award Winner at Energy Category

Uma Sethuraman

Uma Sethuraman is currently (2016) an 11th grade student at William P. Clements High School. In her 2016 Science Fair Project, Uma developed a new, innovative approach to the problem of school scheduling by creating a genetic algorithm to optimize school scheduling. For this project, Uma won the 1st place award for her category in both the Science and Engineering Fair of Houston and the Texas Science and Engineering Fair. She also won the Oracle Academy First Award in the Systems Software Category at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).

Uma is the Vice President of the Girls in Computing Club at her high school and is an officer of the Computer Science Club at her school. She mentors students at the local middle school coding club in order to instill an interest for computer science in younger generations. In addition, Uma enjoys volunteering as a part of the Red Cross and Interact clubs at her school and is a member of her school’s Science, Math, and Spanish National Honor Societies. Uma has a strong passion for computer science and plans to pursue a career in computing in the future.

Uma’s academic accomplishments include the following:

  • National Runner-Up in the 2016 NCWIT (National Center for Women In Computing) Award for Aspirations in Computing Competition
  • Winner of the 2016 NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing Texas: Houston Competition
  • Winner of the 2016 NCWIT Energy Day Award for Aspirations in Computing
  • 1st Place Award in the Computer Sciences Division at the 2016 Science and Engineering Fair of Houston
  • Grand Award for 1st Place in the Systems Software Division at the 2016 Texas Science and Engineering Fair
  • Winner of the 2016 Texas Science and Engineering Fair Intel ISEF Award à Mine was one of the 8 Texas Science and Engineering Fair projects chosen to move on to the 2016 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF)
  • Intel ISEF 2016 Finalist
  • Winner of the Intel ISEF 2016 Oracle Academy First Award of $5000 for Outstanding Project in the Systems Software Category
  • 2016 Semifinalist in the Technovation App Challenge Competition
  • Received Academic Excellence Award in middle school and high school
  • Vice President of the Clements High School Girls in Computing Club
  • Officer of the Clements High School Computer Science Club
  • Member of Clements Science National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, and Math National Honor Society
  • Member of Clements Red Cross and Clements Interact
  • Mentor/coordinator at the Fort Settlement Middle School Coding Club

Energy Day Featured in BSEE Article

Energy Day was featured in a US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) article.

By Bill Lee, BSEE Public Affairs Specialist

Where can one go on a non-school day and find: a robotics exhibition, a condensation experiment, a virtual reality demonstration, a controlled mini-tornado, a solar energy panel, and a mock oil drilling game, all in the same place? How about near downtown Houston, Texas?
Houston’s Sam Houston Park was buzzing, literally, on Saturday, October 15 as participants in the sixth annual Houston Energy Day enjoyed a wide array of informative exhibits, challenging games and interactive demonstrations involving science and technology. Students from local area schools, families and teachers alike delighted in visiting the nearly 70 various participating organizations and their exhibit booths. The participants got to solve mathematical equations, engage in scientific experiments, compete in stimulating games and challenges, and learn about new innovations in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). One activity from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) simulated drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
BSEE’s participation in Energy Day helps fulfills one of its public service and outreach goals within the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Youth Engagement Initiative. This program was introduced by President Obama and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to involve children in learning and play opportunities while also teaching them about service, the working world and future careers. To this end, BSEE’s exhibit allowed kids to have fun while learning about one of the fundamental energy industries in America – oil and gas and how it is found. This was a great opportunity for kids to gain knowledge of a potentially dangerous and risky endeavor, but in a safe controlled environment.
BSEE Public Affairs staffed the interactive display featuring its ever-popular tabletop “drilling for oil game” and allowed students and visitors to the booth to learn about the basic process of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Using common household items (cat litter, shoe polish), students were able to experience, albeit on a much smaller scale, how oil rigs explore for oil. The kids were asked to slowly “drill” down (using labeled sticks) into the “water” and if they came back up with “oil” on them, they won prizes. Of course, many of them declared themselves as millionaires! But candy, toys and school supplies would have to do.

Whose Bounces the Most Times?

Most STEM teachers know the importance of letting students explore, but usually it’s the students who struggle with “exploration”. We have created a a post with ideas, activities, and experiments geared toward exploration, and here is one of those, which can be done with relatively little prep:

one container (small bowl) per group full of the following:

  • pennies
  • washers
  • rubber bands
  • straws
  • styrofoam pieces
  • balloons (these will pop, so make sure each group has several)
  • paperclips
  • string
  • any other simple items you can think of

Put the students in groups of 3-5 and give each group a set of materials (above). Tell the students the object is for the group is to design something that will allow the balloon bounce more times than everyone else’s. (The trick here is that most of the students will start by blowing up the balloons, which they don’t have to do, but don’t specify either way. Just tell them they can use the materials in any way.)

Sit back and let them explore different ways to do this. You may want to incorporate some rules about not being able to answer any questions for the duration of their exploration. Encourage them to keep a journal and write down any questions that they have before trying to solve them as a group by experimenting. If their questions remain unanswered/unsolved at the end of the time period, you may either answer them yourself or encourage the students to do their own research at home.

If you like this STEM Challenge, check out others here.

The Importance of Exploration

Though most STEM teachers know the importance of letting students explore, it’s usually the students who struggle with “exploration”. We are living in a world where students get immediate feedback whenever they make decisions, so they’ve come to expect it, and they’re so afraid or failing that they don’t want to take the next step without knowing what will happen.

Challenge your students or your children to experiment, to explore, and yes, to make mistakes. Challenge them to have a very broad idea of what to expect. If you need to, explain that things like the microwave, silly putty, and even Viagra were invented by mistake, as their inventors were trying to create something else.

Challenge them to answer their own questions by exploring. Whether that means the adult not answering questions for a 30-minute period, or just leaving the room (parents, this option is more for you since teachers wouldn’t be allowed this luxury), push them to find their answers by doing things themselves. One more important piece of the exploration puzzle is keeping a log or journal of what they’re doing. Have them record their hypotheses, their observations, their discoveries, their successes AND failures (very important to experience both), all conclusions, and how they came to each conclusion. This journal should include sketches and ideas, and it should probably look a bit sloppy and disorganized. The idea if for them to develop a strategy and see if it works.

We have created a list of STEM Challenges especially geared toward exploration.

STEM Challenges

Anyone who has been a teacher or a parent knows how difficult it is to keep a child (of any age) focused on school when they’re excited about something. Whether that something is a holiday, a party, or a break from school, our challenge as the adult is to keep the kids occupied and focused. With that in mind, we have put together a list of STEM challenges that can be used in situations such as these. We will continue to add to this list, so come back frequently to check for new ideas.

Encourage the students to explore by reminding them that there are no wrong ways to do things (although you should always explain safety precautions before doing any any of these). If the students are old enough, encourage them to keep a log of their ideas and findings, including any hypotheses they may have, as well as sketches and notes of successes and failures (both are important!). If students are younger, encourage them to draw pictures of what they expect and then what they actually see.

Density Challenges
Steve Spangler
Younger Elementary Density Exploration
Will Sodas Sink or Float?
Neutral Density Exploration (very little prep and few materials involved)

Building/Engineering Challenges
Build a Roller Coaster (easily adaptable to all ages)
Building Projects for Elementary (this could be adapted to older students as well by adding additional challenges: build a bridge that will hold a certain amount of weight; build a crate that will keep an egg intact when dropped from different heights; etc…)
Whose Bounces the Most Times?

Intro into Electricity/Electromagnetism
Simple Battery Motors
Simple Electromagnetic Train

If you know of any other challenges that are worth including on this list, please contact us and let us know.

The Importance of a Mentor

Each year as part of our Energy Day Academic Program (EDAP), we award students for their accomplishments in STEM. What will our future look like without these students? Many students never even attempt to enter these competitions because they don’t know where to begin. These students will greatly impact our future, so we need to invest in them now.

We’ve all heard famous people thank their mentors, and most of us can certainly remember at least one person in our lives who inspired us to take a chosen path in life. But have you ever considered being someone else’s mentor? Before you start objecting that you can’t, I am only too aware that this may seem a daunting task, what with the responsibility and the time required. But just for a minute or two, think about the alternative. What if no one sacrificed his or her time to be a mentor?

I have often wondered what my life would be like if I’d had a mentor from a STEM field because you see, I am a classic story of what happens when one doesn’t have a mentor.

I have always been good at Math and Science. During high school, my interest in chemistry and physics was sparked. While taking chemistry, we had a (female) engineer from Dow Chemical come talk to us, and after listening to her, I knew I wanted to be a chemical engineer. The next year I took physics, and I fell in love. I loved making things; I loved tinkering and figuring out what made things work. I loved the application of mathematics; finally there was something to apply it to! I decided then to attend Texas A&M and get a degree in Engineering.

My first year there, I took all of the necessary math, science, and engineering courses. While they were not easy, and they were taught very differently (as boring lecture classes) than the classes I loved in high school, I wasn’t actually discouraged by this. I wasn’t even discouraged by the fact that I was probably one of only three females in my classes. In fact, strangely enough, I never even thought about that until later in life when it was brought to my attention. None of these things bothered me, yet I did not pursue an engineering degree. Why?

I have a very outgoing personality; I’m extremely social, and I like to talk. In fact, apparently I talked so much that it made some of my classmates uncomfortable. So uncomfortable that I was repeatedly told “shut up; you talk too much”. That in and of itself, however, is not what discouraged me. What really changed my decision was this: I imagined that since so many of my classmates expressed this to me, most engineers probably felt this way, and I didn’t want to pursue a job in an environment that felt obstructive to me rather than constructive. So I changed my major…to Psychology.

Looking back, I honestly believe that if I’d had a mentor, someone to guide me and talk about these things with me, that maybe I wouldn’t have changed my path. Being a mentor is sometimes just about being a face and a personality that students can connect with an industry. We need to break down the stereotypes and show students all of the different kinds of people and jobs that make up STEM industries.

Will you change the perception? Will you be a mentor?