Making Visible the Path of the Sun

The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. This we know from personal observation. But have you ever thought about where the sun is in the sky at the same time each day?

You might think the sun would appear at the same place at the same time each day. This would be true if Earth had no tilt and its orbit were a perfect circle. But this is not the case.

Mineral Electrical Conductivity

People must mine minerals to provide all kinds of materials that we depend on in our lives. The purpose of this activity is to test the conductivity of various minerals with a simple electrical circuit and draw conclusions about which ones would be used in electronics.

Modeling an Oil Reserve

Abundant oil and natural gas form only where conditions in the Earth are just right. Doing this investigation will help you understand how geoscientists identify and explore petroleum-rich reserves.

Modeling Earthquake Waves

An earthquake occurs when massive rock layers slide past each other. This motion makes enormous vibrations, which travel from the site of the earthquake in waves. In this activity, you will model how earthquakes move in three dimensions.

Modeling Oil and Gas Reservoirs

This activity will help you to understand some of the factors that petroleum geologists need to consider when deciding where to recommend drilling for oil. Since people use petroleum products for energy and as source materials for petrochemicals, it is important as citizen scientists to understand the science and technology behind the search for oil and natural gas.

Natural Gas Formation

Natural gas, which is mostly methane, is an energy resource used for generating electricity and heating, powering transportation, and manufacturing products. Right now, one-quarter of the world’s energy comes from natural gas. In this investigation, you will make a simple model of how gases can form from decaying material. You will also explore the effects of temperature on gas formation.

Oil Trap Model

Discuss how a 3-D model illustrates the geology of oil deposits. What challenges do you think petroleum geologists must overcome to recover oil?

Particle Size and Oil Production

What factors affect how easily a fluid can move through sediments? How is this flow rate connected to oil production? In this investigation, you will explore the permeabilities of different materials. You will then use your observations to determine what affects permeability and how this might relate to oil production.

Products from Petroleum

Where would we be without petroleum? You can kiss lipstick goodbye!

Not only does petroleum provide fuel to run our vehicles, cook our food, heat our homes, and generate electricity, it is also used in plastics, medicines, food items, and countless other products, from aspirin to umbrellas and, yes — lipstick! We use many oil products as synthetic alternatives to natural materials, including synthetic rubber instead of natural rubber, and detergent instead of soap. Oil also gives us entirely new, unique materials such as nylon.

Products Made from Petroleum

Most people associate petroleum with transportation — but we are surrounded by thousands of other everyday products that come from this vital natural resource. A typical 42- gallon barrel of crude oil yields about 20 gallons of gasoline and 4 gallons of jet fuel. What products come from the other 18 gallons?


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