Team work makes the dream work for students in Petro Challenge

Hundreds of HISD students competed for awards in the field of oil and natural gas exploration at the annual Petro Challenge held at the University of Houston Jan. 20-23, 2015. The event consisted of two days of training and two days of competition. A number of teams made up of 163 students from Energy Institute High School competed Wednesday, and Team Petros won the day. On Friday, competition took place among 210 students on teams from HISD’s other petroleum academies — Milby HS, Westside HS, and Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy.

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Throughout the competition, each team took on the role of an energy company. Starting with $200 million in funds, their challenge was to maximize the return on investment by finding oil or gas and investing in other teams’ opportunities. The project-based learning exercise consisted of an online simulation in which students learned the geology, engineering, and business aspects of the industry from exploration to drilling.

“They have to learn to work together as a team,” said Jessica Thomas, associate director of the IPAA/PESA Energy Education Center. “In order to get the job done, they have to get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”

“It was a great experience,” said Mathew Breck, leader of Team Petros. “We learned about team work and the need to build 21st century skills.”

Industry professionals from Schlumberger and Occidental Petroleum, as well as University of Houston, Independent Petroleum Association of America, and PESA Energy Education Center guided the students through the competition.