Loose in the Lab Program

In 2010 the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining (OGM) conducted statewide research to determine how much or how little Utahns knew about petroleum, mineral, and coal production, how the use of these natural resources impact their personal standard of living and post-mining regulations. The results indicated that there was a disconnect in what Utahns knew about their energy and mineral use highlighting an opportunity for education.

In 2011, Utah Legislators provided OGM with funding to create and implement the Utah Geology for Utah Kids- Science that Rocks! education program aimed at Utah’s fourth grade school children. The statewide school curriculum includes an earth science component at the fourth grade level making it an ideal fit. 

Bryce Hixson, owner and creator of Loose in the Lab, is the contracted instructor. He developed a four-hour teacher instruction program where teachers are taught how to teach geology using creative and fun methods. Teachers participate in hands-on demonstrations; receive guidebooks, a classroom set of student lab books, a classroom kit containing mineral specimens, and all materials necessary to conduct lab activities.

The purpose of the program is to provide an educational geology program to fourth grade classrooms each year. The goal is to provide an integrated, hands-on, science unit that incorporates learning about and understanding the rock cycle, the geologic history of Utah and its oil, gas and mineral resources. The program is designed to educate Utah’s fourth graders about the value of extracting oil, gas and mineral resources to benefit our lives while protecting the environment and acting as responsible stewards of the land.

Since the beginning of the program 1,248 fourth grade teachers from 26 of Utah’s 40 school districts, five charter schools, and the Catholic Diocese of Utah have been trained. This means that roughly 28,579 students a year are being reached with this program.  Feedback from school administrators and teachers is extremely positive. Teachers often leave the workshops feeling more confident in their abilities to teach their students geology. 

“This helped answer my questions about geology and now I feel more confident teaching it.” – Teacher Jessica Littlefield, Cache County School District.

            “This is such an amazing program! I’ve seen colleagues use it and was so jealous. The kids LOVE it!” – Teacher Lexie Blackhurst, Davis County School District.

For more information on the program, visit http://ogm.utah.gov/amr/utahGeologySchool/index.php

About the Minerals and Petroleum Literacy Program

Teachers participate in hands-on experiments during the Minerals and Petroleum Literacy Program training.

In 2011, Utah legislators approved funding for a minerals and petroleum literacy program sponsored and managed by the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining. The goal was to provide Utah educators with a high quality, teacher-friendly, interactive geology program exceeding the state standards for 4th grade earth science curriculum.

The program includes a four-hour teacher workshop, where a qualified science instructor walks teachers through the program, demonstrating key teaching and science lab opportunities. Teachers receive a guidebook with information for each unit, lab activities, online and offline resources, handouts and lesson outlines for each science unit. Student lab books include factual data, writing activities, graphing and lab activities. Each teacher receives a classroom kit containing mineral specimens and materials necessary to conduct lab activities.

Since the beginning of the program, approximately one-fourth of all Utah 4th grade teachers have been trained and over 16,500 students are reached annually.