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Oil Can Kids Day
Kent Ellis teaches students about energey development, resource uses and reclamation at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference.

Bismarck elementary students got an energy education on Wednesday at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference

250 students, mostly fourth-graders, attended the Oil Can Kids Day event at the Bismarck Civic Center.

Fourth-grade classes rotated through different energy education stations, each one a snapshot of where energy comes from and how it is used.

The program also teaches students about tools and skills they’ll need if they work in a trade. At one station, kids participated in a drilling game. Another project showed students a cross-section of pipe used by drilling rigs.

“The kids just love it. They get to do hands-on things,” said Alison Ritter of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources. “They get to take some stuff home with them and it’s been great to see them get excited about it.”

Instructor Cal Kopp taught a problem-solving session by providing students with a picture, prototype and materials. Students needed to solve the puzzle by using teamwork and critical thinking.

Ten-year-olds Katelynn Jorgenson and Lola Rembolt, both fourth-graders at Highland Acres Elementary School, teamed up to complete their puzzle.

Ritter said the program would not be possible without the help of North Dakota Energy Education program.  It teaches kids about energy development, resource uses and reclamation. The lessons at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference were a condensed version of what the group typically does.

Kent Ellis teaches at the conference on an annual basis. On Wednesday, he taught students how oil is formed and how it is extracted from the ground.

Ellis calls for volunteers to help illustrate his lesson. He uses large pictures of dinosaurs and shows students different types of rocks. He then explains how rocks trap oil underground. When he asks the class a question, hands shoot up in the air to answer first.

While it was difficult to condense the lesson into 20 minutes, Ellis said the students remained engaged and responded well.

“When we get into classrooms for a longer period of time, then we’ll talk more about the process,” Ellis said.

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