LEC students drill into oil and gas info

Learning Enrichment Center students got a hands-on energy history lesson with Friends of the Drake Well’s Mobile Energy Education Training Unit on Tuesday.

Third- and fourth-grade students in Stephanie Scutella’s social studies class and John Fedak’s science class explored the history behind the modern petroleum industry and other forms of energy, including natural gas from the Marcellus shale and solar power.

Joe Hulsizer of Friends of the Drake Well discussed the changes in petroleum production from early Native American use of oil to Edwin Drake’s first commercial well to current production methods for extracting natural gas from the Marcellus shale.

Students in Scutella’s class spent the last semester focusing on the history of Warren County and Fedak’s students will be learning next about different types of energy production, conservation and science.

“This is sort of a cap note to the whole semester,” she said, “and we spent a lot of time talking about early industries – oil, lumber, agriculture.”

Students got their hands dirty with a lesson in early oil seeps, a collection method used by Native Americans, using vegetable oil and water. Students were tasked with seeping up the vegetable oil using strips of cloth to simulate the feathers Native Americans would use to collect and wring out oil.

Hulsizer later discussed the changes in petroleum production from the spring pole method that could only drill three feet a day to current drilling production that can drill miles beneath the surface.

Students were able to examine a replica drill head, touch samples of the Marcellus and Dunkirk shale, create a pipeline that would transport oil to market using only gravity, explore the decomposition of synthetic and natural materials, and learn about the exploration for oil and gas used by petroleum geologists.

Friends of Drake Well’s Mobile Energy Education Training Unit MEET-U “spreads awareness of energy creation, development, and utilization. The goal of this educational outreach program is to educate school children and the public on the historic and modern uses of energy in an effort to improve the future of energy consumption,” according to its website.