“The expansion and collaboration with the Michigan Science Center felt like a natural one,” said Abdulrahman Bayounis, Director of Public Affairs, Aramco Americas. “The Center is viewed as a regional STEM hub for young people and provides a great backdrop for our program.”
The program was created in 2013 with 50 students from the Galena Park Independent School District at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. It has grown to reach nearly 2,000 students and science teachers in the Greater Houston area alone. The curriculum has also expanded its focus areas: energy, chemicals and biodiversity.
The curriculum for “Aramco iExplore: Energy” in Detroit will reach more than 4,000 students, who will visit the Center with field trips in February and March. The collaborative energy literacy program integrates Next Generation Science Standards—nationally benchmarked K-12 science content standards—into the learning experience. This is the first time in MiSci history in which a program was developed and specifically tailored to high school students and to a specific school district's science curriculum.
The program is split into two parts: a one-day teacher workshop and a student field trip to MiSci. The workshop gets teachers comfortable with teaching energy concepts and prepares them for the hands-on learning that takes place on the field trip. Aramco Americas has been involved with regional STEM programs throughout the U.S. and looks to spark student interest in energy-related concepts and careers. Each group visiting MiSci will also have the opportunity to see a video on “Careers in Energy,” featuring Aramco employees in various roles.
David Cleary, Senior Research Scientist and Head of the Aramco Research Center – Detroit, visited with the teachers at their first workshop offering guidance on energy careers and the unlimited possibilities to make a difference in a student's educational interests. He also discussed Aramco's expansive role in the energy industry.
“Conversations with teachers and students on STEM education is important not only because we want them to feel confident teaching and learning these subjects,” Cleary says, “but also, because STEM skills are critical across so many different industries.”
Students toured various areas within MiSci, including the Science Stage, which focused on components of atoms; Sparks Theater, where they participated in an electricity presentation; the Science Hall, where they demonstrated experiments related to static energy; and various MiSci galleries to explore energy transformation and atomic interactions.
Each student used their smartphone to download and utilize a digital app called “Nearpod” containing a custom activity guide—all part of the collaborative effort to create a comprehensive, branded curriculum for the students as they journeyed through the Center.
“This is a rare opportunity to give the next generation of scientists and engineers the tools to tackle the grand challenges of energy,” said Christian Greer, President and CEO, Michigan Science Center. “This makes STEM education more accessible and shines a light on career pathways for our future workforce.”
Research shows that hands-on learning is effective and memorable. “It just encompasses what we want to do in education, and support that relevant learning—not just in the classroom, but outside the classroom. And so for us to work together and have this seamless partnership, it's just what it's all about,” said Kristie Ford, Executive Director of K-12 Science at DPSCD.
Kristie Ford, Executive Director of K-12 Science at DPSCD, also expressed her appreciation for the program and explained how it will help to enhance energy concepts and bring them to life.
Aramco iExplore continues through the end of March. For more information, please visit americas.aramco.com or www.mi-sci.org.