Chemistry of Burning

Why is CO2 increasing in the atmosphere? Who is doing it? Many people think that CO2 is “pollution,” so that clean burning should be a way to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. In this demonstration, we review basic chemistry (see illustration) to realize that producing CO2 is an inevitable product of burning any fossil fuel.

Drill Site Dilemma

This activity gives your students a glimpse at the difficulty of seafloor surveying, as well as the challenges the JOIDES Resolution faces during each expedition. Your students also will learn about latitude and longitude and plotting coordinates.

Energy and Population

Just as your GPS helps you make sure you’re getting from point “a” to point “b” correctly, maps help scientists draw important conclusions and visualize important concepts they study. The right map can help a petroleum engineer find the best drilling site, or help a meteorologist make the best prediction. This interactive mapping activity will help you understand the relationship between the population of a given state and the amount of energy consumed there.

Exploring Energy with GIS

Geoscientists, energy researchers, and others in numerous careers and disciplines use GIS and its integrative nature to tackle these issues. You can, too.

Exploring for Petroleum - Modeling an Oil Reserve

Doing this investigation will help you understand how geoscientists identify and explore petroleum-rich reserves.

Exploring Porosity

Earth scientists play a vital role in harvesting the energy resources on which we all rely. When preparing to drill for oil, for example, geoscientists must assess many aspects of a rock stratum (layer). For example, they must figure out the volume of the rock’s pores, or empty spaces, as compared with the rock’s total volume. This is called the rock’s porosity. To help you understand porosity, think about different sizes of gravel. Which size gravel will have the greatest porosity? Why? In this activity, you will work in groups to explore the answers to these questions.

Geoscience and Petroleum Careers

What adventures await you as a student of the Earth sciences?

Getting the Oil Out

Learn how oil rigs work in this activity from the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

Greenhouse in a Beaker

Carbon is naturally found in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, or CO2, itself is not considered a pollutant. The CO2 being released from burning fossil fuels was part of the atmosphere hundreds of millions of years ago before being captured by plants and sea organisms.

How Natural Gas Forms

In this activity, you’ll make a model of how natural gas might be formed from decaying organic material.


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