A group of student get a first hand look at the work and life of a roughneck.
Most people recognize the Leduc #1 Energy Discovery Centre name and think of it somewhat like an interactive museum, where you would go for a day of fun with the family, and see and experience some really neat stuff. While all that is true, the Centre is that and so much more. Slowly, the reputation of Leduc #1 as an educational centre is catching on.
Once the summer crowds start thinning out as kids go back to school and families get back into a regular rhythm, by no means is the action at the Centre slowing down. That is in part thanks to grants that have been formed using generous donations made by some of the Centre's corporate sponsors, enabling the creation of a busing program that is available to schools.
"The original idea came about several years ago." said the Centre's Marketing Coordinator, Lynn Brown. "It started with my asking Don Hunter (the Executive Director of the Centre) if we could pay for a bus to bring a science teacher's convention here. Once the idea was out there I thought, 'Why stop at one bus? Why not ten?' After all, we have the facilities sitting here."
The Centre had been promoting themselves to all the schools that they could reach for quite a while prior to that, and there had been a few schools that had brought a couple of hundred kids in total to the Centre using their own buses, but as Lynn pointed out, one of the biggest hurdles faced by parents is "wallet fatigue". "There is only so much money to go around." said Lynn, "So when schools have to keep approaching parents to ask for extra money to take their kids somewhere, it can eventually become insurmountable."
That is when Lynn came up with the idea of approaching energy industry companies and asking them to fund a busing program.
"It just made sense to everyone as this industry is so important to Albertans." said Lynn. "I believe it's important for the children growing up here to be educated about not only the history of oil discovery in the province, but also where this industry is going in the future."
The Centre has come up with a program for the kids that matches the curriculum according to the grade, right from grade one through grade twelve. That way the kids learn while they are having fun, and no one gets bored or overwhelmed with information that they can't understand. Centre staff have coined a great new word for their style of teaching kids, and they call it keeping them "edutained".
The program itself can be structured to take just a couple of hours, or fill a whole day for a class field trip. The kids are shown the facility led by a retired school teacher, and the day can include everything from a short film in the theatre, a tour of the grounds where kids get to don hard hats and walk onto a working oil rig, they can handle actual fossils, and play with the interactive displays inside the museum itself.
Teachers and educators from the schools that have taken advantage of this program have come away raving about it, making statements such as, "This was the best field trip I have been on in eight years of teaching!" avowed one Edmonton teacher.
There have been classes from schools as far away as Grouard, Smoky Lake and Red Deer that have taken advantage of the Centre's busing program. Since the Centre started the busing program, student attendance has risen from a couple of hundred kids a year touring the facility, to almost 2000 young people coming through the gates so far in 2012.
"We love to see the kids coming through the Centre and learning about this industry." said Lynn. "We help educate them on everything from discovery to recovery, because I believe it is so important to learn not just where we've come from, but also where we are going."
For more information on any of the tours or programs that the Leduc #1 Energy Discovery Centre runs, you can go to their website at www.leducnumber1.com or give them a call at 780-987-4323.