Exploring for Petroleum - Modeling an Oil Reserve

Exploring for Petroleum - Modeling an Oil Reserve Activity Source: Adapted from “Earth System Science in the Community,” American Geosciences Institute, 2005 Background Since 1970, oil and natural gas have provided more than half of the energy used each year in the United States to produce electricity, heat, transportation fuels, and many everyday products from balloons to vitamins. Oil and natural gas are forms of petroleum, a word that literally means “oily rock. [Read More]

Food Source

Food Source Activity Source: Association of American Geographers. Adapted with permission. How diverse are the food sources in your community and where are they located? How far do they travel to reach you? Do you think the food sources for your community are sustainable? This multi-day activity explores these questions. As of 2008, more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in cities for the first time in the history of the planet. [Read More]

Getting the Oil Out

Getting the Oil Out Activity Source: Society of Petroleum Engineers. Adapted with permission. Artificial lifting systems, or pumping units, are used to help pull oil out of reservoir rock and pump it up a well. A down hole pump in the well is connected to the pumping unit by steel rods, which are screwed together. The pump is activated from the up and down movement of the pumping unit on the surface. [Read More]

Gold Panning

Gold Panning Activity Source: Adapted with permission by Adrienne Barnett, Chabot Space & Science Center, Oakland, California. “Thar’s gold in them thar classrooms!” History meets Earth science in the fun, hands-on activity below. Some gold deposits, or lodes, are found in veins of fractured rock. After millions of years of weathering, gold nuggets and flakes are eroded out of the veins and carried away by streams and rivers. Gold is 19 times heavier than water and tends to settle on the bottom and in the bends of rivers, streams, and lakes with sand and gravel, forming deposits called placer. [Read More]

Groundwater Movement

Groundwater Movement Activity Source: Adapted from “The High Plains: Land of Extremes” Bureau of Land Management, 1996 Background Water that accumulates beneath the surface of the Earth is called groundwater. Contrary to popular belief, groundwater does not form underground “rivers,” but is actually found in the small spaces and cracks between rocks and other material such as sand and gravel. Groundwater supplies about 38 percent of the water used for agriculture in the United States. [Read More]

Grow Your Own Crystals

Grow Your Own Crystals Activity Source: Source: Mineralogical Society of America. Adapted with permission. Most minerals happen naturally as crystals. Crystals are made of specific atoms or molecules joined to make distinctive repeating patterns. The crystals that make up many kinds of minerals are formed deep underground through the interaction of fluid, pressure, and temperature. Some minerals form at or near the surface. You may have seen spectacular mineral samples in museums, but you might not be aware that minerals are everywhere, including in your body. [Read More]

How Natural Gas Forms

How Natural Gas Forms Activity Source: American Association of Petroleum Geologists. Adapted with permission from American Geosciences Institute in collaboration with Project SEED. Think about the energy you use every day to cook, cool your home, or travel. For most of us, the main sources of this energy are fossil fuels: coal, oil, and natural gas. Whether used directly, as gasoline, heating oil, or natural gas, or to generate electricity (by burning coal), fossil fuels are a big part of the world’s energy picture. [Read More]

Identifying Your Watershed

Identifying Your Watershed Activity Source: Water Use In Vermont - An Activities Guide For Teachers (United States Geological Survey) Goal To identify the (1) watershed you live in, (2) source of water used at home, and (3) pathway of surface runoff in your watershed. Look at the watershed maps of your state to answer the following questions: In what town do you reside? Locate your town on the town map. Locate your watershed on the town map. [Read More]

Investigating Rock Types

Investigating Rock Types Activity Source: AAPG. Adapted with permission from “Investigating Earth Systems,” AGI. In any science, it is important to accurately and understandably describe your observations for others. Whether for advancing research or informing the public, communicating your work is critical. For geologists, this comes down to describing rocks’ colors, patterns, shapes and other features. These features may reveal evidence about the past, clues to their suitability for a construction project, or signs of valuable natural resources hidden within them. [Read More]

Investigating Water Use in Your Home

Investigating Water Use in Your Home Activity Source: American Geosciences Institute Water is often called a renewable resource, but what does that really mean? Is water an unlimited resource? What happens to water after we use it? This investigation will help you understand exactly how much water you use in your home and how you can keep from wasting water. If many people are participating in this investigation, work in small groups of 3-5. [Read More]