Posted August 4, 2016
Industry’s Commitment to Creating a Bright Future for Today’s Children and Young Adults
Part of industry’s commitment to the country and its future growth and prosperity is supporting the educational needs of the next-generation workforce that will bring that future to life.
With experts saying much of that growth and prosperity – as well as the accompanying careers – will be built on a foundation of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, a major part of industry’s outreach is focused on developing students’ interest in these topics as early as possible.
And we’re helping to make a difference. Nearly half of U.S. high school graduates who took the ACT in 2015 expressed interest in STEM. Those students also outperformed their peers in terms of college readiness. Further, the number of college degrees conferred in science and engineering disciplines is growing, and a report released in 2015 found that 13 of the top 25 jobs for millennials are in STEM-related fields.
With industry-wide programs and initiatives, as well as company-specific activities, we are encouraging student interest in STEM in new and innovative ways. These range from direct outreach to students and teachers, to the development of new programs and curricula.
To spark interest in STEM among students, we are investing time, tools and money. For instance, Chevron partners with the Fab Foundation to bring fabrication labs to communities where the company operates. The foundation provides access to tools and technology to foster education, innovation and invention, allowing students to develop critical thinking, problem solving and analytical skills that will serve them well into the future.
In Houston, BP’s partnership with Revere Middle School, a STEM magnet school, has BP employees serving as judges for the school’s science fairs and providing tours of the company’s headquarters for students, many of whom are from underprivileged families. The company also supports a summer STEM camp, run by Revere’s STEM magnet coordinator, by paying the way for 90 students.
ExxonMobil launched Be An Engineer, an initiative to help students better understand the engineering field and its opportunities by highlighting the important contributions engineers make to society. It also offers resources for young people interested in pursuing engineering careers. In its first six weeks, the program reached 19.4 million people across a variety of social media platforms including Twitter, LinkedIn, Vine, BuzzFeed and YouTube.
Industry also encourages student academic achievement across all disciplines. For example, a Shell partnership in Louisiana focuses on helping families recognize the importance of reading and critical thinking. An independent study found that students in the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ PRIME TIME initiative outperformed their peers in reading comprehension and language arts and did better in all STEM disciplines.
Industry works with teachers to provide the tools and knowledge they need to inspire the next generation of students. Shell developed a unique arrangement in Texas to show more than 17,000 elementary and middle school teachers hands-on, engaging ways to discuss STEM subjects. The effort with the Texas Regional Collaboratives for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching is designed to foster a love for learning among students.
Chevron and California State University offer aspiring K-12 teachers opportunities to conduct authentic research and then translate that research into classroom practice. Since 2007, the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program has provided nearly 500 research opportunities for nearly 400 teachers at 32 sites across the country.
Many companies in our industry, including Phillips 66 and Shell, work with the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project to improve energy education for K-12 students. With support of companies like these, NEED offers training opportunities for teachers and resources for the classroom.
For Educational Programs and Policies
Industry recognizes the need to develop programs, policies and academic curricula that support STEM education. Anadarko and Junior Achievement have worked to create energy curricula for third, fourth and fifth graders across Colorado. These lessons range from basic uses of oil and natural gas, to career opportunities in the energy industry, to conservation and environmental awareness. Building on the success of these lessons, Junior Achievement is implementing high school curricula as well.
During the 2015-16 academic year, Pioneer Natural Resources and the Midland Independent School District in Texas launched the Petroleum Academy, which helps prepare high school students interested in oil and natural gas industry careers to gain necessary certifications and education.
Along with more than 100 other corporations, ExxonMobil supports Change the Equation, a program designed to support qualified STEM teachers at all grade levels and to inspire students to pursue STEM careers. This program advocates for state policies and practices that produce STEM-literate high school graduates and supports rigorous and high standards for the skills students should master at each grade level. ExxonMobil specifically supports Change the Equation’s College Readiness Program, which is part of the National Math + Science Initiative and is implemented in more than 750 high schools across 30 states. The program partners with schools to increase student participation in Advanced Placement math, science and English classes, and to expand access to these academic opportunities for traditionally underrepresented students.
Industry is at the forefront of building and securing an exciting future for America. These educational outreach and professional development efforts are helping to build the future STEM workforce that will advance our country – and drive our industry – for years to come.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kate Wallace is an associate of research and content development for the American Petroleum Institute. Before joining API she was a researcher and policy analyst at America’s Natural Gas Alliance, and worked on pollinator conservation programs and state wildlife conservation policies before entering the energy industry. Kate graduated from the University of Connecticut with a bachelor’s degree in Resource Economics, and earned her Master of Public Administration from George Mason University. She loves taking her dogs on hikes, travelling and navigating the northern Virginia/DC craft beer and wine scenes with her friends and family.