Eighth Annual Energy Day Festival Is A Huge Success

HOUSTON – October 20, 2018 – Families, students, educators, and local industry leaders gathered at Sam Houston Park in downtown Houston this past Saturday for Houston’s Eighth Annual Energy Day Festival, hosted by the Consumer Energy Education Foundation (CEEF), along with its partner Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA).

The free event – which is now the largest energy-focused festival in the nation — centers on celebrating the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and their innovative impact on the energy industry. Energy Day Festival featured more than 60 interactive exhibits and demonstrations, from several of Houston’s leading companies – including Caterpillar, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Direct Energy, Golden Pass, Noble Energy, Phillips 66, TechnipFMC, Telemundo and TransCanada. Each exhibitor was on hand to greet, educate, and entertain what Houston Police Department estimated to be more than 25,000 people who attended despite the rainy weather. From robots demonstrations by FIRSTRobotics and Microsoft to LEGO engineering and rocket-making, this year’s exhibitors showcased cutting-edge technology in an accessible format to students as a way to excite the next generation about career opportunities in the energy industry.

“Houston has long been known as the ‘energy capital of the world,’ and the Energy Day Festival has quickly become a fixture in championing local and national STEM efforts related to energy, showcasing some of the fascinating career opportunities that await the next generation,” CEEF Founder and Energy Day organizer David Holt said. “Creativity and innovation is key to maintaining energy leadership in oil, natural gas, wind, solar, and energy conservation; and it’s events such as this that encourage and inspire students to challenge themselves, expand their minds, and pursue opportunities to further their potential as future industry leaders.”

Each year as part of the Energy Day Academic Program (EDAP), CEEF and CEA partner with local and regional STEM-focused competitions in technology, computing, robotics, and inventions, and the winning teams and students are awarded onstage at an awards ceremony at Energy Day in the fall. These programs provide students with opportunities to learn about robotics, STEM and engineering concepts, problem-solving, teamwork, and technical applications. Competitions include the SeaPerch Challenge, MATE ROV competition, the All Earth Ecobot Challenge, The Science Engineering Fair of Houston, The Houston Affiliate NCWIT Aspiration in Computing Award, the CSTEM Challenge, the Young Inventors’ Showcase, the Energy Day Art, Essay, & Media Contest, and the John Kingsley Kerver Educator Award. 2019 will see several more competitions added to EDAP: National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB), International Sustainable World Energy Engineering Environment Project (ISWEEEP), and the Conrad Challenge.

During the awards ceremony at 2018 Energy Day Houston, partners and sponsors awarded over $24,000 to 184 students and teachers in 11 categories.

Since EDAP began in 2011, CEEF and CEA have awarded nearly $130,000 to more than 800 K-12 students and teachers at the Energy Day Festival.

For more on this year’s festival – including photos and videos – please click here. The next Houston-based Energy Day is scheduled for Saturday, October 19, 2019.

For more information on the festival, visit the Energy Day Houston website.

Contact:

Colleen McCauley
P: 713-377-3332

What’s Your STEM Story?

Everyone has a story. I have a story. I tell my story often because I don’t want the same thing to happen to other people. However, my story gets old, so we want to hear your stories.

We have a problem that needs a solution: not enough students stay on a STEM path in school, and therefore we have a workforce development issue in STEM industries.

We think one way to combat this issue is to shatter the stereotypes of who works in these industries. So how do we do that? We can tell your stories. Who are you? What kind of things do you like? What did your journey to get where you are look like?

Your stories give students (especially girls and minorities) an example of what their lives could look like. They can see their future selves in you. We want to provide educators, parents, and students with real stories and content that is relevant and will inspire students to continue on a STEM path (and ultimately want to come work for you).

Another way to break down these stereotypes is to show students what current and future STEM jobs really look like. We want to open their minds to discover that working in a STEM field doesn’t mean they’ll be stuck in a lab or at a computer all day. So what does your company do? How does your organization apply STEM concepts that students are learning to what the company does on a daily basis. And how does your company affect the rest of the world? Why do you exist, and what would our lives be like without the things you do?

Other things that are helpful:

  • Any videos of interviews or activities with employees
  • Any fun activities your organization does outside of an office setting
  • Anything your organization does that would seem outside of the box (something less traditional or non-stereotypical) that we could share with students to show them more about potential careers in this industry
  • Any cool experiments or STEM activities that relate to what your organization does

We’re also asking for students and educators to share their stories with us, and we’ll ultimately have a series on these, so check back for that.

If you’d like to contribute content like this to help us encourage the next generation of STEM leaders, please reach out to Paige Barnes.

Colorado Energy Day is Just Around the Corner

Energy Day is Saturday, September 22 from 11 to 4 at East High School in Denver!!!

But wait, what the heck is Energy Day?

Well, this free family event started in 2011 in Houston to show students just what it meant to have a job in the energy industry. Instead of the book work that students typically think of, we wanted to showcase fun experiments, neat exhibits, and fun ways to look at science, engineering, technology, and math (STEM) subjects, much of which is shown through the lens of the latest tech. Since then, Energy Day has become one of the premiere energy-focused family festivals in the nation.

Energy Day offers free fun for the whole family. Featuring interactive lessons and activities that are particularly valuable for K-12 students, families, and educators. Additionally, the festival has music, food, contests, and opportunities to interact with industry experts.

Consumer Energy Education Foundation (CEEF) and Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) serve as the principal organizers of the Energy Day Festival.

If you’ve never been a part of Energy Day – check out last year’s event here:

What’s Your Story?

We’re looking for stories from students and educators with regard to STEM (age and grade level don’t matter; we’re just looking for content). These stories could be in any form of media: videos (simple and filmed from a mobile phone is totally fine!), interviews, or written “biographical” type stories. We’ve even had some super creative students give us infographics and artwork (digital and traditional) to add visual elements. Please email content to us and include the featured person’s name (first names are fine for students), school, grade/age, and teacher’s name in the body of the email. I’ve provided some examples of content if that helps, but feel free to take a different approach.

  • What students love about STEM
    • Favorite STEM subjects and why
    • Favorite STEM project; what made it so great?
    • What do they want to be when they grow up? What path will they need/plan to take to get there?
    • How could they change the world through STEM?
    • Stories of people in STEM (educators or industry professionals) who have inspired them
    • What do they wish they could change about the way STEM subjects are taught in school and why?
  • What teachers love about STEM
    • Why they enjoy teaching it
    • The most fun lesson or project they’ve ever been involved in and why
    • How do they hope to inspire students to change the world
    • Stories of students who want to or could change the world through STEM
    • Stories of students who have inspired the teachers to continue to do the hardest job on the planet
  • Administrators’ stories about students and teachers changing the world through STEM and inspiring others in the process
  • Any STEM activities your community does outside of a traditional classroom setting
  • Anything your organization does that would seem outside of the box (something less traditional or non-stereotypical) that we could share with industry partners to show them more about how we’re preparing the next generation of STEM industry employees
  • Any cool experiments or STEM projects that have really spoken to your community (educators, students, and parents)…we LOVE these!

An Interview with 2018 Science Fair Winner Kabir Jolly

We interviewed 2018 Science & Engineering Fair of Houston Winner Kabir Jolly, and he answered some of our questions about how he came to like STEM:

CEEF: Tell us a little about yourself (your name, age, grade level or job title/description, etc). Also share your favorite thing about STEM (why do you like it?).

KJ: My name is Kabir Jolly. I am 16 and a sophomore at The Academy of Science and Technology. My favorite thing about STEM is the multitude of solvable challenges that lie within this field. It gives people an opportunity to practice and strengthen their problem solving skills to overcome any obstacles.

CEEF: How old were you when you realized you were interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)?

KJ: I have been interested in STEM ever since I was around 10 years old in 4th grade.

CEEF: What would you say to a young student who doesn’t like STEM?

KJ: I would tell them to keep exploring STEM. Since they are young, they have not been exposed to the numerous facets of this field. I encourage them to keep looking because there is a part of STEM for everyone.

CEEF: Did you have any teacher(s) who mentored you or inspired you to pursue STEM?

KJ: My elementary school teacher, Mrs. Brock, was very influential in inspiring me to pursue STEM. The engaging activities and experiments that left our 3rd grade class in awe played a big factor in my continued interest. In the past 2 years, my school’s headmaster, Dr. Caffery, has been very influential as well. She provides a lot of support and feedback, which has been invaluable for science fairs, and motivating for continuing STEM in college and beyond.

CEEF: What are you currently working on that involves STEM?

KJ: My science fair project that tackles the food waste problem using an app-based service is something that I am working on that involves STEM. It actually includes every aspect of the acronym: I conducted intensive research about the problem (science), I used databases and simulations to increase functionalities of my project (technology), I programmed and developed an application (engineering), and I used math to optimize user time and payments (mathematics).

CEEF: What have been some of your biggest challenges in your academic pursuits? What have you done to overcome them?

KJ: For the most part, I have enjoyed my academic pursuits. However, one big challenge I am currently facing is deciding between fields of interest or potential career parths when I enjoy both equally. Although it is definitely early to make a decision like this, I want to focus more time on one area. My plan to overcome this is to explore both a little, because I do not want to limit myself to one area. Once I understand all the aspects I can potentially dive into in each of these areas, I will be able to make an informed decision.

CEEF: Where do you see yourself in 10 years (and even in 20 years)? What path do you plan to take in order to accomplish those goals?

KJ: In the future, I hope to combine my fields of interest to start a successful business that uses software or an invention as an integral part of the company. I plan to learn a lot in entrepreneurship, as well as engineering/computer science to be able to accomplish these goals.

CEEF: How could you help others to get involved in STEM?

KJ: Helping others get involved in STEM, in my opinion can be done through a lot of outreach. Whether it is altering curriculum at schools, or holding events similar to Energy Day, I feel that making people (especially young children) aware of the fun behind STEM is integral to getting them involved in this area.

We look forward to keeping up with Kabir as he pursues his interests in STEM!

Educational Apps and Games

Since the kids will be out of school before we know it, it’s a good idea to have a list of educational games and apps for you to pepper in their screen time. In my house, we have a list of about 15 things that must be done before my kiddos can have screen time (playing outside, reading, and building something are just a few of those things). WARNING to adults: some of these apps may be addictive for you also (I play several from the bottom group daily). Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

With that in mind, here is a working list that will continue to be updated:

Math

Arithmetic Invaders Express: Grade K-2 Math Facts – Defend the solar system by solving counting, addition, subtraction, and multiplication problems.

Mathical – Mathical was developed by teachers for practice of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts; fractions of shapes and place value. The games within the app have adjustable difficulty to suit differing abilities for ages 5 – 10.

Math vs Zombies – The world is overrun with zombies. You are a part of a squad of highly trained scientists who can save us. Use your math skills and special powers to treat infected zombies.

Mystery Math Town –  It’s part math drills, part seek and find game and totally engaging. Kids ages five and up should find this both fun and challenging.

Mathmateer – While your rocket is floating weightlessly in space, the real fun begins! Play one of the many fun math missions. Each mission has touchable objects floating in space, including stars, coins, 3D shapes and more! Earn a bronze, silver or gold medal and also try to beat your high score. Missions range in difficulty from even/odd numbers all the way to square roots, so kids and their parents will enjoy hours of fun while learning math.

Math Ninja – Use your math skills to defend your treehouse against a hungry tomato and his robotic army in this fun action packed game! Choose between ninja stars, smoke bombs, or ninja magic – and choose your upgrades wisely!

NumberStax – Number Stax is a puzzle game to test your number skills! Drop numbers and operators in the correct places to match the number or expression shown at the top of the screen to score. You can’t remove tiles but you can swap them around. You can freeze the game at any time, but remember to watch the clock!

Coding

The Foos (iPad) and The Foos (Android) – codeSpark Academy teaches the basics of computer programming through a variety of interactive learning activities including puzzles, games, step-by-step creative projects, game design and offline printables – all of which can be monitored by parents.

LightBot (iPad) and LightBot (Android) – Lightbot is a programming puzzle game: a puzzle game that uses game mechanics that are firmly rooted in programming concepts.

Kodable (iPad) – Award-winning coding curriculum for kids! Kodable is designed to teach computer science to elementary students grades K-5 (Ages 4-11).

Scratch Jr. (iPad) and Scratch Jr. (Android) – By snapping together graphical programming blocks, children can make characters move, jump, dance, and sing. In the process, children learn to solve problems, design projects, and express themselves creatively on the computer. They also use math and language in a meaningful and motivating context, supporting the development of early-childhood numeracy and literacy.

Bee-Bot (iPad) – The Bee-Bot App from TTS Group has been developed based on our well-loved, award-winning Bee-Bot floor robot. The app makes use of Bee-Bot’s keypad functionality and enables children to improve their skills in directional language and programming through sequences of forwards, backwards, left and right 90 degree turns. The app has been developed with 12 levels encouraging progression. Each level is timed and the faster it is completed the more stars you get! The levels are set in an engaging garden scenario and will appeal from age 4 upwards.

Critical Thinking and Exploration

Brain Training (Android) – Brain Trainer app that exercises to your brain using different strategies: short term memory, concentration, focus, speed, and accuracy; it has 15 different types of brain training games.

River Crossing (Android) (the App Store has similar games, but not this exact one at this time) – In this fun and challenging game, you will find a complete collection of all known river crossing logic problems, plus some completely new riddles that you will not find anywhere else. If you want brain teasers to improve your IQ while you have fun, you’ve come to the right place.

Infinity Loop (Android) and Infinity Loop (iPad) – Simple, relaxing, endless game. People love it! It can be considered a puzzle game about creating intricate looping patterns or just the application of using a simple concept: “connecting multiple things” and make fun out of it.

Rube’s Lab (Android) and Rube’s Lab (iPad) – Rube’s Lab is a physics puzzle game with an amazing interactive world. Venture into the world where you`ll need to save Rube’s Lab from the wiles of Dr. Evil using logic and imagination. Items, objects, mechanisms, chain reactions… Solve puzzles through available tools in limited time frame.

Brain It On! – Physics Puzzles (Android) and Brain It On! – Physics Puzzles (iPad) – Deceptively challenging physics puzzles for your brain! Draw shapes to solve challenging physics puzzles. They’re not as easy as they look.

Logic Master 1 (Android) and Logic Master 1 (iPad) – The game contains brilliant questions that incorporate use of memory, logic, attention, and the ability to think in unconventional ways.

Logic Master 2 (Android) and Logic Master 2 (iPad) – The second version of a brilliant and unusual puzzle game that tests your attention and ability to think outside the box.

If you know of any great ones that I’m missing, please email me and let me know.

How To Be a Mentor

Webster defines a mentor as an experienced and trusted adviser. Did/do you have one? Most of us would answer yes. Think about the importance of that person in your life. Now think about how you could be that person to someone else.

Some may think they are not qualified to be a mentor, but trust me, you are. And you are needed! Mentors can be different things to different people; it’s about creating relationships, and we can all do that.

Texas Girls Collaborative Project has partnered with Nepris and others to create a site for people to come together for STEM volunteering purposes (think match.com for STEM). Check out Texas STEM Connections to see how easy it is to get involved and change a young person’s life!

Students Can Change the World!

At CEEF, we want to empower students to change the world through STEM, and we need your help! We want to motivate and inspire students like these.


As part of a Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition, students from Denton, Texas came up with a solution for people displaced by a natural disaster.

Robert Garcia, from Denton Independent School District (ISD), and Charla Marchuk, from FEMA Region 6,
presented in person about a K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Collaboration, along with
two of Mr. Garcia’s students. Their interest lies in further integrating STEM and Geographical Information Systems
(GIS) into the practice of emergency management. Mr. Garcia’s students were initially involved in a project partnership with Samsung to create the Critical Adaptable Shelter for Assistance (CASA) de Samsung, a short-term shelter to be used in disaster relief. To create such shelter, they reached out to local meteorologists, the American Red Cross, FEMA, and an architect. Importantly, the students designed the shelter to fit the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards for the elderly and disabled, who are often the most vulnerable after disasters.

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 was so social 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 or a job. 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? Make a difference now!

Training & Professional Development for STEM Teachers

Occupations in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-related fields are some of the fastest growing and best paid in the world. The STEM workforce is broad and complex, and it touches every aspect of our economy. Even many non-STEM jobs require technical proficiency, such as basic software skills. With the growing need for these skills in both technical and non-technical occupations, it is more important now than ever to ensure that students are properly prepared to succeed in these fields. One of the most important components of students’ success in these subjects is high-quality science and math teachers, but finding, recruiting, and retaining these teachers is one of the greatest challenges our nation faces today.

Most people can recall at least one teacher who was able to motivate students and build interest in a subject. This usually requires a teacher who challenges the class to use critical thinking and is able to relate the concepts of the lesson to real world experiences. Such high-quality teaching can have lasting effects on students. Educators who are able to provide a solid STEM foundation through well-rounded curriculum and engaging classroom activities may help spark an interest in STEM at an early age that can last a lifetime.

Unfortunately, there is an extreme lack of trained and qualified science and math teachers in the U.S. It is estimated that over 1 million teachers move in and out of schools annually, and between 40 and 50 percent quit within five years. Of the active teachers, roughly 30 percent of chemistry and physics teachers in public high schools did not major in these fields and have not earned a certificate to teach those subjects, and more than two thirds of middle school math teachers are not qualified to teach the subject. If a teacher lacks the knowledge and capabilities required to teach a subject, it can be difficult for students to understand the concept, likely resulting in a loss of confidence and interest in that field.

State and federal policymakers have made efforts in recent years to create programs that help recruit and prepare effective STEM teachers, but this is a challenging undertaking. President Obama’s 100Kin10 coalition unites the nation’s top academic institutions, nonprofits, foundations, companies, and government agencies to train and retain 100,000 excellent STEM teachers within the decade. Already, more than 150 foundations, companies, and others have come together to lead 100Kin10, raising over $30 million, but there is still a long way to go, and a successful program demands that leaders from every sector take action and spread the word.

Additionally, state legislators such as Rep. Dwayne Bohac and Rep. Bobby Guerra of Texas have introduced bills recognizing the importance of certification and professional development for public school teachers, but these programs need to extend beyond the subject of computer science to provide training, professional development, and mentorships in all STEM fields.

Elected officials, business leaders, and educators must continue working together to provide STEM teachers and prospective teachers with the tools they need to successfully teach STEM subjects and motivate students to follow career paths in these fields. Students need teachers who are capable and knowledgeable, so it is critical that we work together to create programs that attract, train, and retain talented math and science teachers. If we are able to improve the quality of STEM education in the U.S., our students will be better prepared for the workforce, and the ability of the U.S. to compete in a 21st Century technology-intensive, global economy will be strengthened.

Written by Kathleen van Keppel