FARMINGTON — Energy Week begins today, drawing 1,600 middle school students from around the area to Farmington Museum to learn about the oil and gas industry.

C.V. Koogler Middle School in Aztec will kick off the event this morning. Home-schooled children will visit in the afternoon.

This marks the ninth year that oil and gas companies have partnered with the museum to present Energy Week.

"One of the major selling points for industry was to have an educational tool for industry people to explain the realities of oil and gas and what's really happening," said George Sharpe, investment manager at Merrion Oil and Gas, who organizes the event. "It started with the Farmington schools, and it's gotten bigger every year."

This year, students from Farmington, Aztec, Bloomfield, Shiprock, Kirtland and Dulce will participate.

Students at the museum will tour the "From Dinosaurs to Drill Bits" exhibit that tells the story of how oil and gas is formed and extracted. They will also visit equipment parked outside, including a massive Baker Hughes truck used in hydraulic fracturing and a truck-driving simulator from the San Juan College School of Energy. Industry workers will be on hand to field questions from students and lead discussions.

Sharpe said the field trip fits into the students' eighth-grade science lessons.

"We really do try to tie it in with the educational aspect," he said.


Brenna Sherwood, an eighth-grade science teacher at Mesa View Middle School, will be taking students to Energy Week for the sixth year. The event sums up a month-long energy unit at the school.

"We use it to really enrich what we already do in the classroom," she said. "We try to teach it at the end of the unit. Really, it's just hammering home the things we've already taught."

It can help students to learn from community members outside the school setting, Sherwood said.

"Sometimes, our kids don't believe us, and it's helpful to hear it from an outside source," she said.

Sharpe acknowledged Energy Week presents oil and gas issues from an industry perspective.

"Truthfully, it is the industry trying to put their best foot forward and showing what we do," he said. "It is a one-sided story. We do, however, talk about renewables and the fact that we need all kinds of energy. They just are not going to replace fossil fuels in any short-term fashion."

On Saturday, Energy Week hosts a session for the public. A discussion called "Energy is Your Friend" will be at 1 p.m., followed by tours of the "From Dinosaurs to Drill Bits" exhibit and the outside displays.

The documentaries "spOILed" and "FrackNation" will be shown at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Energy Week continues through April 26.


Chuck Slothower can be reached at; 505-564-4638. Follow him on Twitter @DTChuck