School curriculum aims to produce energy workers

School curriculum aims to produce energy workers

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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The energy industry in North Dakota has developed a curriculum aimed at teaching fourth- and eighth-grade students about the state's petroleum, coal, wind, hydropower, solar, biofuel and geothermal resources.

The idea began more than two years ago with the EmPower Commission, a group representing North Dakota's various energy sectors, the Bismarck Tribune ( ) reported. The Great Plains Energy Corridor at Bismarck State College oversaw development of the curriculum. The Lignite Research Council and the Oil and Gas Research Program matched donations from energy companies to fund the $250,000 cost.

The curriculum, which was made available this fall, teaches students about careers in the energy industry, from oil well drillers to public relations specialists, as well as the state's energy resources. Teachers are not required to use the energy curriculum. They can also choose to use only parts of the material, or they can add to it.

"If we can get our own children to understand and be excited about energy, they will be more apt to pursue careers (in those fields)," said John Weeda, director of North Dakota Generation for Great River Energy and member of the EmPower Commission.

Although the curriculum is designed to be taught over two weeks, educators are able to teach at their own pace, said Emily McKay, director of Great Plains Energy Corridor. It also offers online material such as photos, videos and diagrams.

The energy industry is beginning to influence academia throughout the county, according to Paul Keidel, STEM coordinator at the Bismarck Public Schools Career Academy. The Next Generation Science Standards, an educational framework for grades K-12 developed by several national organizations, are a prime example of that notion, he said.


Information from: Bismarck Tribune,

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