SIPES Houston Chapter’s “Maps in Schools” Project Update for 2021

How It Started

“Maps in Schools” is a major outreach program of the SIPES Houston Chapter which began in 2009. The program was described in the SIPES Quarterly of November 2016, but it’s time for an update !

The Houston Chapter effort was inspired by the Corpus Christi SIPES Chapter, the Corpus Christi Geological Society and the leadership of our late colleague, Owen Hopkins. Following their lead, the SIPES Houston Chapter began placing USGS geologic maps of the lower 48 in local schools in 2009. Several maps were presented as rolled paper maps, along with oral presentations by Pat Shannon, Duncan Dubroff and myself. 

The map itself, called “A Tapestry of Time and Terrain”, is a creation of the USGS. The map is a large, colorful geologic map with shaded topographic relief of the continental US, color coded to the geologic column, with an absolute time scale. SIPES Houston now frames the map and adds a brass dedication describing the origin of the gift and honoring Owen and more lately, our past Chair, John Hankey. Since 2009 more than 30 schools (mostly in greater Houston) have received framed maps, had a lecture on the geologic phenomena the map illustrates and in several cases, asked for repeat presentations. Maps have been placed in Middle and High Schools.

Initially, progress was slow, largely as a result of the reluctance of schools to understand we had a message of significance and the “red tape” administrations deal with in the current environment of bad things happening in schools. Covid has slowed down the ability to visit schools dramatically. 

So What Do We Say In the Presentation

The presentation we make at each of the schools consists of five parts:

  • Introductory Comments: What is Earth Science and Why is SIPES Giving Your School a Map?
  • DVD: the AGI DVD entitled “Why Earth Science: Because We Live on Earth” which is a very professional 10 minute overview of geoscience including volcanoes and dinosaurs
  • PowerPoint Presentation: 25 slides describing the geologic map, features observable on the map, geologic time, careers in geoscience and fossils. A new addition is discussing William Smith using the book “The Map That Changed the World” written by Simon Winchester. A copy of the book is donated to the school.
  • Fossil Collection; a quick review of a few of my personal fossil collection and how fossils help define geologic time periods
  • Questions

IPAA/PESA Energy Academies

Largely due to a connection to IPAA made for us by SIPES member Evelyn Medvin, I connected with the IPAA/PESA (Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Petroleum Equipment Suppliers Association) program coordinated by their Energy Education Center. IPAA/PESA has established and actively supports five petroleum academies that teach students engineering, geosciences, leadership and math in Houston Independent School District and the Fort Worth Independent School District. The program began at Houston’s Milby High School and has grown to include five schools, culminating in The Energy Institute High School which opened with 200 students in 2013. The Energy Institute High School will add 200 students each year until a total enrollment of 800. This is a unique institution for not only HISD but the nation!

The Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy, also part of HISD, is the first all-girls engineering and geoscience program of its type in the nation at the high school level.

The five schools involved are:

  • Energy Institute High School, Houston
  • Milby High School, Houston
  • Southwest High School, Fort Worth
  • Westside High School, Houston
  • Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy, Houston

I am happy to say each of the Schools (including Fort Worth) has received a framed map from us and four of schools have requested and received a presentation on earth science and the geology observable on the map. The deliveries hand-off to faculty and administrators has been dome by myself and SIPES past-Chair John Hankey, SIPES member Elizabeth de Leon-Maestas (aka EA) and current SIPES Houston Chair Jeff Allen.

IPAA Program Evolution

IPAA program has changed its name to the “IPAA Energy Workforce Education Center”. Their educational program has been working with educators for nearly 20 years with a professional staff supporting programs, resources and advice to member schools to enhance STEM education and especially energy focused programs.

The SIPES Houston “Maps in Schools” program joined the IPAA program when we connected to the Houston ISD high schools with “Petroleum Academies” and presented maps. That was an unplanned synergy!

Subsequently I have been invited to join Evelyn Medvin on the IPAA Education Advisory Board and SIPES Houston is now a sponsor of the IPAA Energy Workforce Education Center and SIPES Houston is listed as such on their website.

As you might expect, Covid has placed a huge damper on the ability to personally visit and make presentations at schools! IPAA has adapted effectively and the newest feature of the IPAA programs includes a “Virtual Exploring-Energy Program” featuring a video library. The library provides content including STEM topics, energy, leadership skills, and industry animated tours to high school educators and students in Middle and High schools.

Thanks to SIPES Houston members Linda and Charles Sternbach, the “Maps in Schools” PowerPoint presentation has been recorded with audio by me and to date is one of the main “geoscience” content videos in the library. Linda, a past SIPES Houston Board member, is an expert in video recording and created and edited created an MP4 video for the library.


The IPAA program has expanded dramatically. Some quick statistics:

  • Over 17,000 students have participated in the IPAA programs
  • 41 percent female participation
  • Two-thirds  of students are economically disadvantaged
  • Significant impact on first generation college participation
  • Over $1,000,000 in college scholarships awarded
  • 795 industry externships awarded with 37 participating companies

The goal for SIPES Houston is to have annual return visits resume as classes of students see our map in their classroom or hallway and wonder what it means. At Duchesne Academy, for example we have now returned five years to speak to the entire 7th grade.

Many thanks to everyone who has been involved and to several recent Houston SIPES Boards for their support in the expense of framing the maps!

Jeff Lund

SIPES 3024

Past Presentations

Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy (Jeff Allen and Jeff Lund)

Duchesne Academy (Jeff Lund and Elizabethann de Leon-Maestas)

Duchesne Academy (Jeff Lund and Elizabethann de Leon-Maestas)

Regis School (Jeff Lund and Elizabethann de Leon-Maestas)

Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy (Jeff Allen and Jeff Lund)

SIPES Houston past chair John Hankey touching up maps before presentation

The plate we attach honoring SIPES Houston past chair John Hankey

EA and Jeff with students at Duchesne Academy

SIPES Map installed in hallway at Young Women's College Preparatory Academy

Students at Duchesne Academy looking at fossils

Students at Helms Elementary School with the map

Students at Helms Elementary asking questions

Students at Regis Academy