Oklahoma Energy Resources Board and energy companies boost new STEM program at OKC Public Schools

The Oklahoma oil and natural gas industry is helping students ignite a passion for STEM.

 “We’re just grateful,” said Sean McDaniel, Superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools. “We have a grateful heart collectively as a school district.”

 Every Oklahoma City Elementary school, 33 in total, will have brand new STEM or science, technology, engineering and mathematics centers thanks to a partnership between the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools and the Cal Ripken Senior Foundation. 

 Half of the centers were funded by the people of Oklahoma oil and natural gas.

The centers give kids the opportunity to learn through hands-on activities and develop basic problem-solving skills.

“It’s important to see what grabs these kids,” said Cal Ripken Jr. “All of those things translate to good skills that can apply to the rest of your life.”

Cal Ripken Junior visited with a few students in Oklahoma City and shared why STEM education is important to him and the Foundation.

 “To me it’s seeing their eyes open a little bit, seeing how it works, how does this go together and maybe it’s just to expose them to something that says, this is how it works, maybe there’s a better way to do it,” said Ripken.

Ten of the STEM Centers were funded by the people of Oklahoma Oil & Natural gas through the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board. Ascent Resources, Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy, Kimray and Le Norman Properties sponsored additional centers.  

Dave Le Norman, the Vice Chairman for the OERB says this is about investing in Oklahoma’s future leaders.

“The industry stepped up big,” said Le Norman. “You don’t become energy dependent as a nation without embracing technology. We need more STEM across the board.”

The Cal Ripken Senior Foundation provides all of the curriculum, tools and equipment for the STEM centers, as well as training for the teachers.

 “It really is a skill or an understanding in the science and math that they can apply as they get older, so we feel really good that we’re giving them some tools and skills,” said Ripken.

 The OERB will also be providing oil and natural gas-specific curricula and resources for the STEM Centers. Many hoping the skills the students learn will be put to use in their home state.

“We would like to keep our resources in our state,” said Le Norman.

 “They have the skills to go to work in Oklahoma, so we are really excited about that as well,” said McDaniel.

Kelly Roliard