Summer camp showcases gas and oil drilling

Denise R. Freeland Dix Communications Published:

MINERVA -- Students attending Minerva Elementary's first-ever summer enrichment camp had the opportunity to learn from geologists and oil and gas industry experts, as well as doing hands-on environmental data collection, and publishing a website to share all they learned.

The camp got under way July 9 with team-building activities and an introduction to the Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program, a worldwide hands-on, school-based science and education program in which students collect data that is analyzed by scientists.

"They were very excited that the science they were going to be doing was real and the data was going to be used by real scientists," said camp leader Debbie Hartwig.

The students also participated in an activity that introduced them to geology and the life cycles of different types of rocks. They also learned about taking core samples by "drilling" through various types of candy bars with drinking straws and trying to identify what was in each from the sample.

The students then participated in a "web quest," in which each student chose to be a geoscientist, petrochemical engineer, investigative journalist or a graphic designer. The groups of students were then charged with becoming experts on the oil and gas industry throughout the week and working together to create a website for the community.

While at the Beech Creek Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve in Alliance, the group also did soil experiments, led by GLOBE Trainer Nancy Baker-Cazan. The students learned to assess the color, texture and moisture levels of soil, and to use vinegar to test the pH, all tests done by oil and gas industry scientists.

Dominion East Ohio Gas Company geologist and Minerva resident Phil Zbasnik shared his rock collection with the students and also explained the geology of shale-gas deposits and the drilling and fracturing process.

Chesapeake Energy hydrogeologist Mark Deering talked to the students about the science of geology, and Aimee Belden, Chesapeake Community Relations representative, gave the children an up-close look at a Chevy Tahoe that runs on compressed natural gas.

The group then traveled to a drilling site in Carroll County where Chesapeake Manager of Corporate Development Ryan Dean explained what they were seeing.

On Friday, the students finished and launched their website, which can be seen at http://kafafa.com/accounts/minervainfodepot/. Their parents also visited to see a slide show of the week's activities. The students said they hope to continue adding to the website during the upcoming school year.

The enrichment camp was entirely funded by Chesapeake Energy, which also provided goody bags, notebooks and rock kits for the students.

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