Cypress Springs educator benefits from HCDE industry workshop

July 24, 2015

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Cypress Springs High School physics teacher Frank Gill goes through a product bucket assembly line to take products back to the classroom as a “show-and-tell” for students during the Science Teachers and Industry Workshop at the Harris County Department of Education. (Photo courtesy HCDE/Amanda Arnold)

July 22, 2015—Cypress Springs High School physics teacher Frank Gill learned a greater understanding of the chemical industry and area chemical plants through the Science Teachers and Industry Workshop hosted by the Harris County Department of Education (HCDE) and sponsored by the Texas Chemical Council.

Academic science specialists and industry experts presented a full scope of environmental viewpoints during the three-day workshop, held July 13-16. Included were field trips to a chemical plant, an overview of the Houston Ship Channel, careers in the chemical industry, and materials and experiments to take back to the classroom.

“The workshop was awesome,” Gill said. “As teachers, it is important we know the subject we teach. It is even more important to know the opportunities students have after they graduate.”

Dow Chemical Company employee and workshop presenter John Koegel shared that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has created a boom for the industry and a need to hire talented and qualified workers moving forward. Sharing career opportunities with teachers so they can impart them to students is a means to attaining future employees, from office workers to engineers to plant operators.

The Texas Chemical Council which Koegel’s company is a part of provided the workshop free of charge to teachers as a community service project.

A product bucket assembly line allowed teachers to take products back to the classroom as a show and tell to students, said HCDE Science Curriculum Director Lisa Felske. The buckets feature products manufactured in Houston by the petrochemical companies. Samples include plastics used in products and containers used for glue, soaps, tape, hair gel, Ziploc bags, lint sheets, dry erase markers, plastic containers, plastic bags, Coke bottles and toy cars.

Gill said the trainings connected teachers to the outside world so that they can talk about science subjects along with career opportunities and pathways for students as they graduate. Telling teens how they can make money through careers in science is integral to hooking them on science, he explained.

“I needed this opportunity to talk to the people who would be offering our students jobs,” said Gill, a 19-year teaching veteran. “Because of the Science Teachers and Industry Workshop, I was allowed an opportunity to talk to people working in the science industry. I have a degree in chemistry with an emphasis in chemical analysis. When I was standing in the lab at Chevron-Phillips, I was remembering why I decided to study chemistry. I wish each one of my students had an opportunity to walk through the plant and talk to the people that worked there. As a teacher I was allowed an opportunity to talk to people in the working fields of science. It was a great experience.”

Houston companies participating were BASF Corporation, Bayer Material Science, Chevron Phillips Chemical Co., The Dow Chemical Company, Eastman Chemical Company, Formosa Plastics Corporation, Texas, INEOS Olefins & Polymers USA, Kaneka and TOTAL Petrochemicals USA, Inc.

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