natural resources

Investigating Water Use in Your Home

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. Before you begin, think about all the ways water is used in your home. How much water do you and your family use at home everyday? Record your thoughts and share them with others. Make a list that combines everyone’s uses of water in their homes.

It's About Time

Geologic time can be difficult for people to understand. Our own lives are so short when we compare them to the age of the Earth, that the hundreds of millions of years of geologic time are almost too much to grasp. To understand how a timeline works, you will make a personal timeline and compare it to the geologic timeline shown here.

Map-Making Basics

Maps are two-dimensional ways of representing information about the natural and built world from a "top-down" perspective. You are probably familiar with road maps that show where roads go and which roads intersect with others and where. You also may have seen weather maps, which show weather patterns across a specific geographic area, or political maps, which show where borders are for countries and areas within those countries.

Mapping a Refuge

A refuge is a place where you can record observations of seasonal changes to plants, trees, and wildlife. You can use GPS (global positioning system) data to mark an observation spot and record your observations. Then, if you can, visit the same national wildlife refuge during other seasons in the year to document changes in the natural world.

Model of a Well

Groundwater is contained in the zone of saturation below the land surface. The top of this zone is known as the water table. People can tap into this source of water by drilling wells. The depth of the well and level of the water table greatly influences the wells productivity. In this activity you will demonstrate the relationship of groundwater to wells.

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 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.

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