The Oklahoma Energy Resources Board and its master teachers aren't taking the summer off.
They're working hard to make the board's education curriculum fit with the state's common core standards.
Education is one of the industry group's two core missions, along with its commitment to clean up abandoned well sites around the state.
OERB, which offered its first education program in 1996, has shared its curriculum with more than 12,000 teachers, education director Carla Schaeperkoetter said. The board has provided materials to about 95 percent of the state's school districts.
“Now we have eight programs. We host workshops for teachers around the state,” she said. “We provide the teachers everything they need to teach the curriculum in their classroom. We give them all the materials.
“We give them the curriculum guide and we go through it with them with our master teachers.”
Latta High School teacher Susie Edens said OERB's curriculum gives teachers a variety of practical lessons to share with their students.
Edens, who is one of OERB's master teachers, started out as a field tester for the board's early high school curriculum. She said her students had a great time with it.
OERB's classes focus on physical science and chemistry, she said, with some life science as well in the bioremediation program.
“It is very Oklahoma related, so we can actually see some of the issues and the problems in the industry, but it certainly ties directly into the curriculum we are teaching in our classes,” Edens said.
Officials said OERB's curriculum meshes with teachers' lesson at their discretion.
“This program is invaluable to a lot of our teachers, especially in the rural areas,” Yukon High School teacher Carol Hirtzel said.
Some teachers have said the OERB program provides the only science equipment in their schools.
Schaeperkoetter said the board offers as much as $700 worth of equipment to teachers who complete its workshops. Teachers also receive professional development credit and a $50 stipend for their time.
“Anything that the teachers need to teach our curriculum is included in the kit,” she said. “We want to make sure that teachers don't have to go out and buy any materials on their own.”
Edens said OERB's contributions to education in Oklahoma are tremendous.
“It helps these cash-strapped schools,” she said. “I know we're universally looking for more equipment and resources for our classrooms.”
Edens said students in rural schools like Latta are more likely to have relatives working in the oil field, so they understand the relevancy of the lessons OERB is sharing with them.
Hirtzel shared that assessment of the oil and gas industry.
“It's the No. 1 industry in the state, so we think it's important to teach our students about it,” she said.