Inside Aera
Oil in Everyday Life, Community Mar 13, 2019

Students discover oil at Aera

Fifth-graders from Bakersfield’s Ramon Garza Elementary School get a deeper look into the oil and gas industry.

Ramon Garza Elementary students watch as Aera’s Kacy Aakhus conducts an experiment showing how water moves differently through porous rock compared to sand.

Class, here’s a pop quiz for today: What products are made from oil?

  1. Cell phones
  2. Gasoline
  3. Toothbrushes
  4. All of the above

If you’re a fifth-grader at Ramon Garza Elementary School in Bakersfield, you likely know the answer is “D.”

Some 150 fifth-graders from the central Bakersfield school learned that and much more when they visited Aera’s Bakersfield headquarters March 4 for a morning of oil exploration, science and fun. Bakersfield City School District Superintendent Doc Ervin and Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Mark Luque also joined the group.

“Our visit to Aera offers access and exposure to one of the richest economies in our area, which our students typically don’t know about,” said Luque. “It’s about making connections, so that as they enter junior high and high school, they understand the options that are out there, whether it’s college or a career route.”

The field trip to Aera also moves students deeper into the Science, Technology, Arts, Engineering and Math (STEAM) curriculum that BCSD is developing, Luque added.

Teacher Michelle Coleman noted that the oil-focused visit took place as her fifth-graders are studying rock cycles and earth layers in their science unit.

“It’s so important for these students to understand the role of fossil fuels in our daily lives,” Coleman said. “We’re really pushing college and career readiness. This visit opens their eyes to the different career opportunities and industries.”

Aera’s Tiffany Brewster explains that almost everything students touch in their daily lives is made from petroleum.

The students rotated through several hands-on stations to learn more about oil, how it’s formed and how companies like Aera get it out of the ground. Instructed by several Aera Ambassadors, they also heard about the specially designed equipment used to extract oil and Aera’s rigorous safety rules.

At other stations, the students heard about exploring beneath the earth’s surface to find oil and gas.  They watched experiments showing how quickly water moves through porous rock and how slowly it seeps through sand. They learned about the oil industry’s commitment to protecting the environment, including air, water and endangered animals and plants.

Another station showed students the vast number of items made from oil. Those include anything plastic-based, such as toys, eyeglasses and bicycles. Almost everything they touch, whether it’s medicine, books or computers, depends on oil. Aera Ambassadors challenged students to imagine a day without oil.

Afterwards, the children tested their oil knowledge in a competition with teachers. The students won, earning a pizza party for their success.