Aaron Macy and Alan McIntyre demonstrate the Mini Refinery
Aaron Macy and Alan McIntyre demonstrate the Mini-Refinery

Shell and the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project have partnered to ignite the genius in the scientists and engineers of tomorrow. Shell sponsored “Energize Your Classroom” workshops facilitated by The NEED Project are hosted across the United States and provide local educators with the opportunity to learn about energy in a fun and engaging way, at no cost to them or their school district.

“Energy and science literacy is fundamentally important to today’s population,” said Mary Spruill, Executive Director of the NEED Project. “Without knowledge of energy and science, making smart decisions is almost impossible.”

During the workshops, teachers spend the day with NEED facilitators learning about the science of energy, energy sources, electric power, transportation and energy efficiency. The NEED curriculum offers teachers options to bring energy into any K-12 classroom. The workshops help teachers find ways to engage their students in a Kids Teaching Kids format, where students learn about the subject matter and teach their peers, families and other community members about energy.

Each attendee receives a choice of a free NEED Science of Energy kit designed to teach the concepts of force, motion, light, sound, heat, electricity, magnetism, and energy transformations through hands-on activities, or a NEED Fossil Fuels to Products kit designed to introduce students to fossil fuels and the processes involved from exploration, production, refining, chemical manufacturing, transportation, marketing, and uses of petroleum, natural gas, and their products in the industrial sector. From students learning about how gasoline is refined to students learning how much electricity wind power generates in the United States, all the activities are authentic and energizing for students.

With the energy industry forecasting significant shortages in the workforce pipeline in years to come, igniting the genius in today’s classrooms is vital to our energy future.

On November 1st, for the first time in Skagit County, a NEED workshop was held at McIntyre Hall in Mount Vernon. Shell Puget Sound Refinery representatives Alan McIntyre and Aaron Macy were there with the “Mini-Refinery” kit which is a small distillation unit made of clear glass. This unit is a visual aid used to educate people about how the refining process works. Aaron and Alan demonstrated the mini refinery for about an hour, and then answered questions from the local educators in attendance.

“NEED activities help students understand the facts and develop the thought processes needed to make smart energy decisions today and in the future,” said Spruill. “Shell’s support of NEED programs allows teachers and students to really develop an understanding of energy and supplies the valuable classroom curriculum and equipment needed to explore and inquire.”