Shared from the 4/13/2019 Hobbs News Sun eEdition

Where the JOBS are

Hobbs Middle School students exposed to their options in science and oil and gas


Houston Middle School Career Tech Lab teacher Brandi Fisher was named the IPAA/PESA 2018-19 Power Your Future Teacher of the Year Friday.


Joe Hodges with OXY in Hobbs introduces himself to a group of Houston Middle School sixth-graders Friday before discussing questions on STEM and petroleum skills and careers.


A Houston sixth-grade student plays on a virtual reality station Friday showing the Hobbs OXY offices during a presentation on STEM and petroleum skills and careers.


Brandi Fisher was looking for some additional teaching tools and curriculum for her sixth-graders.

The Houston Middle School Career Tech Lab teacher didn’t realize that one double-click on her computer mouse would not only get her those teaching tools, but also a cool $6,000 in her pocket and an additional $4,000 for her classroom.

On Friday, Fisher’s class was the recipients of visitors from OXY’s Hobbs office, the IPAA/PESA Energy Education Center and EVERFI. The IPAA is the Independent Petroleum Association of America and PESA is the Petroleum Equipment and Services Association. Both are partnered with EVERFI, which is involved in increased STEM education in America’s schools. They created a middle school program on STEM career exploration that interested Fisher.

During their presentations with Fisher’s sixth-grade class, the OXY employees talked about STEM skills and behaviors, the pathways to STEM careers, petroleum careers and the future. When the class presentation was completed, IPAA/PESA Energy Education Center Vice President Anne Ford announced Fisher is the IPAA/PESA 2018-19 Power Your Future Teacher of the Year.

“I am surprised and shocked. I am really speechless,” said Fisher, who added her involvement with EVERFI came from an email she received from the STEM education company.

“The email said they had a program and asked if I would try it. I had more flexibility with the type of STEM education my sixth-graders are learning so I thought I would give it a try. I started using it and my students really enjoyed it.”

Fisher said her students enjoyed the work of analyzing data, design and the usage of different skills.

Along with EVERFI, Fisher has made the most of the educational assistance available to teachers. She applied for and received a $15,000 grant from Devon Energy that she used to purchase a 3-D printer for her classroom.

“We also have an interactive touch table that will be set up for the fall,” she said. “I have bought lots of coding activities and coding robots where students will learn about coding and how to program the robots. Also some video game design that the students will begin working on in the fall.”

During the presentations, groups of students transitioned between several tables where the OXY officials discussed and answered questions about STEM and the oil and gas industry.

“We asked the OXY employees to talk about their careers and make it real. Make is personal,” Ford said. “We were thrilled OXY was able to show the virtual reality component. It’s that one-on-one meeting and hearing their stories, the different kinds of STEM roles in the world and showing the diversity in the workplace and at Occidental (OXY).”

Ford said the IPAA/PESA and EVERFI launched the middle school program last fall.

“They created a digital and classroom discussion on STEM career exploration,” Ford said. “We launched it in the Permian Basin in the fall and Occidental Petroleum (OXY) is our founding sponsor. OXY provided a financial donation to the (IPAA/PESA) foundation that made these presentations possible.”

The program allows students to look at 35 career options, Ford said.

“The student learns about themselves and what they are good at and what STEM careers are of interest to them,” Ford said. “We’ve worked with EVERFI to add some petroleum careers such as petroleum engineers and land geologists.”

Ford said research found the middle school level is the best time to introduce students to STEM careers.

“That’s where the jobs are in the future,” Ford said. “Around 80 percent of the jobs in the future.”

Todd Bailey can be reached at

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