Chevron renews $150,000 partnership for science and discovery
Believing an educated work force is vital to economic development in Odessa, and stressing the importance of being a partner in the communities in which they live and work Chevron presented Ector County ISD with a check for $150,000 Monday morning. The dollars will be divided between Project Lead the Way engineering and biomedical courses, and PICK Education.
Chevron Area Manager for the Midland Basin Molly Laegeler called this, “Integral to get our students interested in STEM education early in their lives. These bright minds are going to be the ones that unlock our problems and the challenges we face at Chevron as well as in the broader industry,” she said. That is why Chevron has provided this type of funding for ECISD for more than five years.
Of the donation, $100,000 will be directed to Project Lead the Way, a nationally recognized curriculum for Engineering and Biomedical Science. ECISD students from kindergarten through 12th grade benefit from PLTW’s engineering curriculum. Biomedical Science is relatively new, beginning its second year as an elective at Permian High School. ECISD Executive Director of Career & Technical Education Carla Byrne said the Chevron support made it possible for the school district to implement biomed and grow the engineering programs. “Chevron funds have helped us replace equipment; send teachers to required training; and implement elementary and middle school engineering classes.”
At this time, more than 400 students are in engineering classes at Odessa High School and Permian High School. That number has doubled in the last seven years. The young Biomed program has 152 students enrolled.
The PLTW middle school program, Gateway to Technology is available – and growing – at Wilson & Young Middle School and Ector College Prep Success Academy Middle School. PLTW Launch for elementary is in place at Hays Elementary, Travis Elementary, and Zavala Elementary.
The remaining $50,000 of the donation is earmarked for PICK Education, an initiative of the ECISD Innovation Department. Now starting its third year PICK Education brings real-world science and research projects to ECISD classrooms, authentic hands-on professional development for teachers, and partnerships with other school districts, colleges, and universities.
SharkFinder®, Backyard Brains (a do-it-yourself neuroscience initiative for kids), and renowned scientists brought in for guest lectures and professional development sessions are just a few ways PICK Education is changing how ECISD teaches and learns. “The people at Chevron are innovators,” said ECISD Chief Innovation Officer Jason Osborne. “We are excited to share our results and our stories with them.”
Since PICK Education was established in September 2016, nearly 11,000 students have been directly impacted by research collaborations or learning engagements from the Speaker Series. There will be newer opportunities for more students to become involved with health science data work through stem cell regenerative medicine and human placenta research. More than 6,000 students are expected this year to contribute to elasmobranch research, this is a 400% increase from last school year. Since 2016, nearly 400 educators have been involved in PICK Education professional development consisting of field explorations, special presentations and/or facilitating research projects.
The Innovation Department and PICK Education have extended their list of partnerships with Tulane University School of Medicine, San Francisco State University, Southern Methodist University and UT Austin, with a total of 10 university/institute partnerships. These partnerships benefit students and teachers by connecting them with real world experiences, where they are able to contribute to real research.
Teacher Bridgette James retired but came back to help with SharkFinder® and says the project ( in which students search ancient sediment for significant fossil finds) is rewarding for the students because they take ownership of the work. “The kids do their own investigation, their own research,” she said. “And that opens their minds to so much more in the world instead of being directed what to do. They do their own discovery.”
ECISD is thankful for the partnership with Chevron, and all of the support shown to these programs.