Colloquy: EnergyQuest and the Court of Last Resort

March 1, 2014

Editor's Column: Colloquy

Raising awareness of the energy industry needs to begin long before students are enrolled in college.

The World Affairs Council of Houston recently held its fourth annual EnergyQuest competition for Houston-area public and private high school students, testing their knowledge of the global energy industry.

WAC-Houston developed the event in 2010, said Education Program Officer Ivana Situm. The questions are international in scope, testing students on technology, as well as economic and political aspects of energy, in all its forms: fossil fuels, renewables, types of power (nuclear, fuel cells, electric cars). In the oil & gas sector, this included questions on chemical attributes of fuels, vessels, NOCs, IOCs, and service companies.

Teams (of up to 10 students) were expected to prepare for the competition by reading the material posted three month earlier at wachouston.org.

The material–29 articles–was drawn from a variety of sources, including articles published by ABC News, Bloomberg, Business Week, The Christian Science Monitor, The Economist, Forbes, Fortune, National Geographic, The New York Times, Time, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal; reports issued by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) and Casey Research; and locally, the Houston Chronicle and Greater Houston Partnership.

EnergyQuest is structured as a fast-paced quiz game, played in four rounds of twenty questions each. The subject rounds this year were: Sources & Security; Transportation & Technology; Politics & Geography; and Demand & Economics.

In the case of a tie, additional questions were available for a Sudden Death round, but that was not necessary in this year’s competition. If a team decided to challenge the wording or scoring of any question (and a few did), they were able to appeal to the “Court of Last Resort,” which was judged by Julian Lamborn, Master Docent for the Wiess Energy Hall at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

I was impressed by the success rate of the winning teams in each round; top teams often scored 17-18 correct out of 20 questions. This is the next generation of energy professionals! Individual players on the top three teams received medals; the winning team received a trophy and the winning teacher or school, a US $500 cash prize.

This year's winners: First place: Dulles High School; second place: Foster High School; third place: Carnegie Vanguard.

The Houston EnergyQuest event was sponsored by the Petroleum Equipment Suppliers Association (PESA) and the Emcees were Pat Bond and Karen Oganowski, assisted by students from the University of Houston.

WAC-Houston’s Education Outreach is supported by Albert & Ethel Herztein Charitable Foundation, Anadarko, Aramco Services, Baker Hughes Foundation, The Brown Foundation, Carleton Speed Family, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Marathon Oil, The Powell Foundation, Shell, UHY Advisors, private foundations, and individual members. OE