press release

Colorado School of Mines trains teachers in science curriculum featuring oil and gas exploration and development

As a follow up to a grant awarded last fall by Unocal Alaska Resources and Ocean Energy, Inc., an instructor with the Colorado School of Mines spent the week of June 12 at Houston High School educating nine teachers from South-central Alaska on their new "Oil and Gas Exploration" science education kits. Alan Swanson, the facilitator of the workshop, traveled to Alaska at the request of Dana Phillips, an eighth grade science teacher at Houston Jr/Sr High school.

Ms. Phillips requested the $9,600 grant from the two companies based on her previous experience with the Denver Earth Sciences Project. The science education modules were developed in conjunction with the Colorado School of Mines to address a range of earth science topics. "The modules deal with critical issues facing society and are prepared by teams composed of experienced teachers and practicing scientists," says Ms. Phillips.

The class consisted of four days of instruction and culminated with a game of "Gushers and Dusters." The game, developed by the Colorado School of Mines, is designed to give students an understanding of the economics of the oil industry and the relationship between oil companies, banks and drilling contractors.

For the teachers, playing oil business became a highly animated and educational activity. Co-workers Dana Phillips and Sue Moore formed "Suedan" Oil Company and negotiated with drilling partners Joe Alward and Ron Skonie, "D&K Drilling Inc." Both Alward and Skonie teach at Anchorage's West High School. "Banker" George Chapman, a teacher from Wasilla High School, contemplated payment schedules and interest rates, finally striking a deal with "Suedan." The game is decided when instructor Alan Swanson reveals the data from the "Lease" each company purchased. "We've been preparing for this game all week," Swanson explains. "We've used geology to interpret the seismic data and discussed the role of drilling contractors and banks in the industry."

"I think this is an excellent way for industry to educate our young people about natural resource development. I commend Dana Phillips for taking the lead to pursue the grant and to organize the workshop," said Roxanne Sinz, Unocal spokesperson. Ocean Energy's Chairman, President, and CEO James Hackett, adds "Ocean Energy is pleased to support scientific education through our charitable contributions programs for communities where we conduct business."

Updated: July 2000