The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Learning About Oil

I think my students have finally gotten used to the idea that I know a lot of people who work in a lot of really awesome professions that relate to our curricula, and I like to invite these experts to share their work and ideas with the class. We have had guests share their interests in biology, nuclear energy, Native American flutes, martial arts, and music. We have also had special assemblies provided to the entire school, such as visits from some of the performing groups from the high school.

Today we welcomed another special guest. While most of our guests have been from the Champaign-Urbana community, this guest came to us all the way from Alaska! When I told my class this, their interests were instantly piqued. When I told them that part of her job when she lived in Canada was to blow things up, everyone was hooked.

Our guest, Ms. Climer, is actually a native of the community, having grown up in Champaign. She attended the University of Illinois and got a degree in environmental engineering, wih an emphasis on hydrology. She and I were discussing my students’ science curriculum and when I mentioned that one of our units explores the different ways we generate electricity, particularly using renewable and non-renewable resources, she reminded me that she works for BP America.

Ms. Climer came in this afternoon and took questions from the students. They wanted to know what she does and how she does it. Then she talked about oil exploration and how oil is extracted from the ground and used. It was really fun to see the students’ amazement when they realised how many products they use every day use oil byproducts! I also loved the quality of questions many of the students asked; they were really showing that they were paying attention and using their own prior knowledge to further their understanding of what oil is and how it is used.

Before leaving, Ms. Climer gave all of the students a gift from her company: a ruler with a calculator built into it. She will be back tomorrow and Thursday to talk about other energy resources, such as wood, coal, natural gas, wind, water, and solar. This is going to be a great way to wrap up the third quarter before Spring Break!


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