By Velda Addison, Hart Energy

When it comes to educating children, there is still a lot of buzz around science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

And rightly so, because there is a growing number of jobs that require knowledge of STEM skills; however, fewer students—specifically in the U.S.—are pursuing expertise in STEM fields, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The pipeline of educators in these areas is also “inadequate,” the feds say.

But efforts are underway to reverse the trend and spark interest in a move to fill future jobs such as for software developers and engineers, including for the oil and gas sector. This downturn won’t last forever. Anyone in the Houston area has an opportunity to learn more about the energy sector by taking part in the 6th annual Energy Day Festival sponsored by the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) and the Consumer Energy Education Foundation.

Scheduled for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 15 at Sam Houston Park in downtown Houston, the free event is geared toward students in kindergarten through 12th grade and aims to help grow the future workforce for the “next wave of American energy innovation by showcasing dozens of exciting state-of-the-art technologies and machines that only those equipped with classroom skills in STEM can make,” organizers said in a news release about the upcoming festival.

In addition to contests, food, games and music, more than 50 interactive exhibits and demonstrations will be showcased by some of the industry’s largest oil and gas companies. These include ConocoPhillips, Hess Corp., Occidental and Shell. Organizers say the exhibits will put energy advancements in the spotlight in hopes of sparking interest in STEM-related studies. The festival also has cable and satellite television network Nickelodeon, which broadcasts popular shows such as Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants, on the lineup—something that is sure to grab children’s attention.

Activities surrounding the festival, which attracted more than 28,000 attendees in 2015, also include eight energy-related academic competitions. Participating students and teachers have a chance to win part of more than $13,000 in awards.

“American families and small business—the foundation of our nation—are seeing the benefits of lower energy costs and better opportunities for their children's future as a result of the U.S. ‘energy revolution’ which has once again put the nation as the leading producer of oil, natural gas and alternative energy,” CEA President David Holt said in a statement. "These advancements came from our ability to transform an idea in a lab to a commercial-scale source of energy—and that's not going to change in the years ahead. That's why Energy Day is important. It's a fun-filled, relaxing way to connect kids of all ages with the classroom tools and real-world examples they need to succeed in future energy careers.”

Get more information about Energy Day and related activities at

Velda Addison can be reached at