Thirty K-12 teachers from as close as Lompoc and Orcutt to as far as Bakersfield gathered at the Radisson Hotel in Santa Maria on Thursday to learn about a rarely discussed classroom topic -- energy.
Hosted by Phillips 66 Co. and the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project, the energy education workshop educated the teachers in everything from energy transformation to the fractional distillation of oil.
But, of course, the workshop was all about the kids.
Barry Scott, state program director of NEED, spent most of the day explaining how to use experiments, research and analysis activities to make learning about the science of energy fun and relevant for students.
"Mainly, we are giving them the fundamental concepts to teach their children about energy," Scott said "Energy isn't traditionally taught, so we are filling in that gap. We want them to leave today saying, 'We've learned a lot and we can teach this."
Mary Spruill, executive director of the NEED Project, and Lewis Marquez, a special education teacher in Bakersfield and a returning NEED workshop attendee, agreed with Scott, noting the training to be essential to education.
"Phillips 66’s significant investment in energy education addresses the need for high-quality energy curriculum and training for today’s teachers and students," Spruill said. "Supporting NEED’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and workforce development programming engages students and teachers in a deeper understanding of energy."
Marquez, on the other hand, has seen the effect the workshops have had on his classroom over the years.
"This offers teachers a very big incentive to write grants and be able to teach alternative energy programs," Marquez explained. "For me, the biggest thrill is that my kids are requesting to do things with energy. It's amazing."
Each educator received a NEED-developed, state-correlated curriculum and an energy kit to take back to their schools.