© 2002 American Geological Institute. http://www.agiweb.org
this module, students will use hands-on, inquiry-based explorations to
- how energy resources are converted into electricity;
- how fossil fuels form and are found;
- the importance of renewable energy resources; and the importance of energy conservation.
where energy resources come from;
Investigation 1 -- Tracing Electricity to Its Source To learn more about this topic, visit the following web sites: What are fossil fuels?
- Fossil Fuels, US Dept. of Energy
Begin your exploration by visiting the "Introduction to Energy" link to learn about the connection between energy and fossils fuels. Click on the right arrow to learn how fossil fuels are formed.
- How Fossil Fuels Formed, DOE
This site offers a basic explanation of coal formation on a geologic time scale. http://www.fe.doe.gov/education/energy2.html
- Electricity Supply and Demand Fact Sheet , EIA - DOE
This site reviews the current issues facing electricity generation in the United States and explains how industry deals with these issues.
- Electric Power Industry Overview, EIA - DOE
This page contains a list of links to web pages that provide information on various aspects of the electric power industry.
- Introduction to Energy , DOE
This site offers an online tutorial, designed for students. It explains how energy is used and how fossil fuels are formed.
- Electricity Basics
This site provides an introduction to electricity, including what it is, how it is produced, and how it travels.
- What is Electricity?, Energy Information Administration
Learn the basics about electricity, as well as investigate the brief history of electrical generation.
http://www.eia.doe.gov/kids/electricity.html#what is electricity
- What is Electricity?, California Energy Commission
This web site provides information on electrical wires and batteries, as well as provides directions to a simple experiment that will help you understand the transference of electrons.
- Electricity, EIA - DOE
Explore the generation and transportation of electricity, including the purpose of turbines and nonrenewable/renewable energy sources in these processes.
http://www.eia.doe.gov/kids/electricity.html#How is a Transformer Used
- Electricity Transmission System, California Energy Commision
Learn how electricity gets to the customers, after its production at the power plants.
- Virtual Tour of a Power Plant
Take a trip through this state-of-the-art power generating plant. The descriptions and graphics of real power plants make this a useful tool for learning about electricity.
- How is electricity delivered from the Power Plant to you?
Get the basics of the major components of electricity generation and transmission.
- Electricity: How It Is Produced
Explore the standard process of creating electricity, regardless of the power source at this site.
- "U.S. Sticking With Fossil Fuels, Cheney Says", Environment News Service
This article provides information on the Bush Administration's new national energy strategy.
- Generators, Turbines and Power Plants, California Energy Commision
Find out how generators, turbines, and powerplants work together to create electricity.
- Find Out About How the Turbine Works, EREN- DOE
Explore this site to learn how a group of wind turbines can make electricity for the utility grid.
- Start Your Engines
Check out this page to learn more about steam turbines and different turbine types. http://library.thinkquest.org/C006011/english/sites/dampfturbine.php3?v=2
Investigation 2 -- Uses of Energy Resources How do you measure energy?
- The Energy Story, The California Energy Commission
Explore the variety of ways energy can be measured.
- Measuring Energy Usage
This site provides information on how to measure the amount of electricity your appliances use.
- Energy Units and Conversions
- It's Coming Sooner Than You Think, Alternative Energy Institute
Find out about the world's oil supply as we come closer to reaching its maximum production and midpoint of depletion sometime around the year 2010.
- Key World Energy Statistics, International Energy Agency
This site provides useful statistics in the forms of charts, graphs, and reports regarding the world-wide use of fossil fuels since the 1970.
- Coal Information, Kentucky Geological Survey
This page provides a series of links to aid your research into this topic (i.e., What is coal?, How is coal formed?, What are the components of coal?).
- COAL: Ancient Gift Serving Modern Man , Kentucky Educational Television and the American Coal Foundation
This site contains a brief overview of how coal is formed.
- How is coal formed?, Kentucky Geological Survey
This site explains the processes associated with the formation of coal. http://www.uky.edu/KGS/coal/webcoal/pages/coalform.htm
- How did the coal-bearing rocks form?, Kentucky Geological Survey
This site explains how sedimentary rocks that form coal reflect the environments in which they were originally deposited.
- How Coal Is Produced , Kentucky Educational Television and the American Coal Foundation
This site reviews surface and underground mining methods used to remove coal from the ground. Also included in the site is information about the regulations governing coal mining and the people who mine coal.
- Coal Resource Recoverability, U.S. Bureau of Mines
This online circular reviews the factors associated with coal production, including mining, cleaning, recoveries, etc. It also includes tables and figures to illustrate key concepts and examples.
- Coal Resource Classification System of the U.S. Geological Survey - Geophysical Logs as a Source of Coal Bed Data, USGS
This article explains how geophysical techniques can be used to identify coal beds and to quantify their resources. It includes examples and explanations of geophysical logs.
- Coal Mining and Transportation, DOE
Fossil Energy DOE Site reviews coal mining techniques.
- U.S. Coal Supply and Demand:2000 Review , EIA - DOE
- USGS Tracks Acid Rain, USGS
This article defines acid rain and explains how acid rain forms and what impacts it has on the environment.
- Coal Resources in Environmentally-sensitive Lands Under Federal Management, USGS
This online report presents estimates of coal-bearing acreage and coal tonnage in environmentally-sensitive areas and explains how these areas are dealt with. It includes plates that give detailed examples.
- Coalbed Methane--An Untapped Energy Resource and an Environmental Concern, USGS
This site looks at the potential of using coalbed methane as an energy resource, but also considers the environmental implications associated with removing the methane from the ground.
- "Coal-Bed Methane: Potential and Concerns" - Nuccio, V., USGS Open-File Fact Sheet 123-00
Visit this site to learn more about the potential use of methane as an energy source, as well as some of the problems associated with its use.
- What is Petroleum?
This site provides a basic definition of petroleum and provides a graphical illustration of onshore and offshore exploration and production.
- Natural Gas and Oil, Cornell University
A deeper explanation of the origin and characteristics of gas and oil is offered in this article.
- An Index of Early Petroleum History Sites
This site contains a list of petroleum history links, ordered by state.
- Economics and the 1995 National Assessment of U.S. Oil and Gas Resources , USGS
This online fact sheet reviews the status and location of United States onshore and offshore oil and gas resources as of 1995. It includes information about known oil and gas fields, as well as estimates of undiscovered reserves and the costs and methods associated with finding these reserves.
- "A Summary of the U.S. Geological Survey 1995 National Assessment of Oil and Gas Resources" - USGS Fact Sheet
Fact sheet summarizes the findings of the 1995 National Assessment of Oil and Gas Resources, with a focus on undiscovered reserves.
- Discussion: Oil Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Find out more about whether or not ANWR should not be opened to oil exploration and production.
- Oil on Demand, Energy Information Administration
Research the global and US consumption rates of oil by visiting this site. It also provides links to demand data and sources, as well as graphs.
- Origin of Natural Gas Accumulations, National Council for Science and the Environment
This article offers a more-detailed look into the generation of natural gas accumulations as well as migration.
http://cnie.org/NLE/CRSreports/energy/eng-10.cfm#ORIGIN OF NATURAL GAS ACCUMULATIONS
- About Natural Gas
This site provides a good overview of natural gas and also provides links to other information such as "Finding Natural Gas," "History of Natural Gas," "Natural Gas Creation," etc. It also has direct links to many
regulatory agencies, trade associations, and energy firms.
- Charts and Graphs, National Gas Asso.
This site offers charts and graphs regarding natural gas consumption, reserves, etc.
- Natural Gas: Fueling the Blue Flame, US Dept. of Energy
Begin your exploration by visiting the "gas" header at the top to learn what natural gas is, where it is found, and its production.
- Natural Gas Distribution System
Learn more about the huge network of pipelines that bring natural gas to Californina customers.
- World Natural Gas Distribution and Production
Read this article to explore gas distribution and production patterns all over the world. This page offers tabular data of the world's natural gas resources in Tables One through Five.
http://cnie.org/NLE/CRSreports/energy/eng-10.cfm#WORLD NATURAL GAS DISTRIBUTION AND PRODUCTION
- What to Burn – Coal or Gas?, The Greening Earth Society
This article address the fundamental issue of how to fuel new electric power generating capacity.
- Benefits of Natural Gas, American Gas Foundation
Learn why and if using natural gas in place of other fuels can help ease a number of environmental concerns.
- The Supply Challenge
Some say the natural gas resource base in North America is vast and diverse, yet others say it is too finite to count on. Read this article to learn more on this topic.
- Nuclear Energy - Fission and Fusion
This site provides the basics about nuclear energy. It also includes links to other useful web sites at the bottom of the page.
- Uranium Facts, Office of Nuclear Energy
Site uses an illustration to explain the nuclear fuel cycle and includes several facts about uranium and its use as a source of nuclear power.
- Waste Storage, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Environmental Management
Learn why storing different types of waste presents the Department's Waste Management program with a considerable challenge.
- Annual Report: Testament, Greenpeace
Explore the agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy and Russia’s Ministry for Atomic Energy to develop and test advanced technologies to remediate high level nuclear waste in both counties.
- Benefits of Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Energy Institute
This site explores four beneficial attributes of nuclear energy.
- No Nukes Info Source, Austrian Institute for Applied Ecology
This web page offers a collection of new stories about serious incidents in nuclear power plants. You can search reports by reactor type and country.
Investigation 3 -- How Fossil Fuels are Formed To learn more about fossil fuels and their formation, visit the following web sites: What are the varieties of coal?
- Types of Coal, The Coal Association of Canada
This site defines the different types of coal, as well as reviewing their uses and distributiions.
- Types of Coal, Kentucky Educational Television and the American Coal Foundation
This site explains how coal "rank" is determined and defines the different types of coal.
- Coal Resource Classification System of the U.S. Geological Survey, USGS
Learn how the USGS classifies and tracks coal resources in the United States, including rank of coal, thickness of beds, distribution, etc. Maps and data are available at this site.
- What is a Bog?, Drents Museum, Germany
Learn about peat bogs, how and when they develop, and view a collection of pictures of German bogs.
- What is Peat?, International Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Bureau
This site provides a more-detailed look at peat and its depositional environments.
- Fossil Fuels, Penn State University
This article provides information on hydrocarbon deposition (including oil and gas) in list format.
- Fossil Fuel Formation, Utah State Office of Education
Explore this university's online resource for an overview of depositional environments and characteristics of oil, gas, and coal. It also provides an interactive illustration showing how oil is drilled.
Investigation 4 -- Sources and Uses of Petroleum To learn more about the distribution and consumption of petroleum resources, visit the following web sites: Where are the world's petroleum resources located?
- Ranking of the World's Oil and Gas Provinces By Known Petroleum Volumes, USGS
"This report presents a division of the world into 937 geologic provinces and identifies those that the United States Geological Survey (USGS) plans to assess for petroleum resources. The selection of geologic provinces to be assessed was based on a ranking of known petroleum volumes in terms of barrels of oil equivalent (BOE)." It also includes informative tables and graphs of information (e.g., "Ranking of world provinces that contain oil and gas by known petroleum volumes," "Ranking of world provinces that contain oil and gas by known petroleum volumes," etc.).
- Oil as a Finite Resource, World Resources Institute
This site offers a collection of slides, based on the paper "Oil as a finite resource: When is global production likely to peak?" which identifies the trends in future supplies and consumption patterns of crude oil and the
peaking and decline of global crude oil production.
- Synthetic Fuels, Oil Shales, and Tar Sands
On page 3 of 10 of this article, a brief but informative explanations of tar sands is offered. You can learn where they are mostly found, typical methods of extraction, and other technologies that are being used.
(NOTE: Adobe Reader is needed to view this document. Please click here or visit http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html to download the latest , FREE version.)
Options to Meet Energy Requirements, Petroleum Conservation Research
This article examines the possibilities of new initiatives being considered by the Indian Government for the commercialization of renewable and non-conventional sources of energy besides sustained oil conservation. See "Inter Fuel Substitution" section for information on tar sands.
- Canada Is Unlocking Petroleum From Sand, New York Times
Learn how Alberta's oil sands may be the continent's leading oil producing area north of the Gulf of Mexico.
Back to top
Investigation 5 -- Exploring for Petroleum What do geologists look for when they explore for oil?
- Looking for Oil and Gas?, San Joaquin Geological Society
This site provides a detailed introduction to oil and gas explorations. It provides graphics and links to help build your understanding.
- Oil and Gas Extraction, US Dept of Labor
Explore the nature of the industy from research to extraction to refining.
- Fuel Oil Facts, The Energy Source Network
This site briefly reviews petroleum exploration, drilling techniques, means for petroleum recovery, and transporation.
- How oil is recovered, A-to-Z Science
Illustrations are used in this page to explain primary, secondary, and tertiary recovery of oil from reservoir rocks.
- Oil & Gas Reservoir Life Extension, DOE Fossil Energy
This online article explores the importance of enhancing recovery of oil and gas from rocks.
- Carbon dioxide flooding may help resurrect old oil wells, The University of Kansas
Learn more about carbon dioxide flooding, a procedure that could improve Kansas's oil production and make the United States more energy self-sufficient
- Horizontal drilling, University of Wisconsin
Drilling directly in an oil reservoir can be tricky and expensive. Explore how horizontal drilling is a useful method for saving money and lessening the environmental impact while recovering the same amount of oil as other methods.
- What is Hydraulic Fracturing?, EPA Office of Water
Learn more about a technique that allows oil or natural gas to move more freely from the rock pores to a producing well.
Investigation 6 -- Solar Energy Explore these web sites to learn about renewable energy sources:
- Solar Energy, California Energy Commision
Explore the basics of solar energy and the products developed to harness this energy resource.
- Solar Energy Basics, EREN - DOE
This site introduces the use of the Sun as an energy resource. Click on the "Back to Solar Energy" button at the top of the page to visit a new page that contains detailed links for more information about photovoltaics, passive solar heating and cooling, solar water heating, issues surrounding the use of solar power, and more.
- Photovoltaic Cells, Energy Educators of Ontario
This site explains how photovoltaic technology has evolved, how it works, and where the technologies are typically applied.
- About Photovoltaics, EREN - DOE
This page provides a list of links to articles that cover topics related to photovoltaics, including how photovoltaics works, different types of photovoltaic systems, materials used to make solar cells, applications and uses of photovoltaics, current uses of photovoltaics, current news about photovoltaics, and more.
- Wind Energy, Energy Educators of Ontario
This site reviews the history of wind use as an energy resource, how wind turbine technology works and where it is applied, and also makes predictions about the future of wind-generated power.
- Wind Energy FAQ/Technical Information, American Wind Energy Association
Explore a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ's) about wind as an energy resource, including information about how to calculate the amount of power in the wind at a given wind speed, the basic types of wind turbines, the cost of wind power, and more.
- Wind Energy in California, California Energy Commission
This site gives an overview of wind energy. Also visit the "Fast Facts" page, which gives wind facts in a table format.
- History of Wind Energy Use, EREN - DOE
Since 5000 BC, humans have harnessed wind energy. Learn more about this interesting history by exploring this site.
- Wind Farms and Wind Farmers, EREN - DOE
This site offers information on wind farming, how it works, how much electricity is generated, and where they are located.
- Solar Heating and You, EREN - DOE
This site explains how solar heating works, including descriptions of different types of solar collectors. It discusses why solar energy is an important resource. Directions for making a solar air heater and a glossary of relevant terms are also available.
- Passive Solar Heating, Cooling, and Daylighting, EREN
Explore passive solar and daylighting building designs such as large south-facing windows and building materials that absorb and slowly release the sun's heat.
- Forms of Alternative Energy, Univ. of Oregon
This site provides a list of the the advantages and disadvantages renewable energy resources.
Investigation 7 -- Using Energy Resources Wisely To learn more about heat transfer, visit the following web sites:
- Why is heat transfer important to XMM?, Astrophysics and Space Research
Explore conduction, convection, and radiation in relation to Earth Systems at this site. It provides graphics and real world examples to aid in your understanding of heat transfer
- Conduction, University of Winnipeg
This web page provides a good introduction of conduction and offers annotated graphics to aid your understanding.
- Convection, Univeristy of Winnipeg
This web page provides a good introduction of convection and offers annotated graphics to aid your understanding.
- 3d Movie of Convection, University of Chicago
This movie is a 3D animation of convection. The animation shows the temperature fluctuations in a layer of unstable, turbulent gas.
- Radiation, University of Winnipeg
This web page provides a good introduction of radiation and offers annotated graphics to aid your understanding.
- Insulators, MacMillan Encylopedia of Physics
This site offers a more-detailed look into insulators.
- Insulators, University of St. Andrews, Scotland
Explore the characteristics of insulators that give them their unique properties.
- Renewable Energy Advisory Council of Western Australia
This site offers an in-depth look into insulators in relation to building materials. It covers such topics as thermal conduction, radiative heat transfer, practical aspects of thermal insulation, and more.
- Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network (EREN), Dept of Energy
This site reviews technologies to improve energy efficiencies in a variety of sectors:
- Energy Savers - Tips on Saving Energy and Money at Home, EREN - DOE
This site provides information on home use, insulation and weatherization, heating and cooling, water heating, and more. Plus, you can request a free Energy Savers booklet and learn about other products, including Spanish Energy Savers at this site.
- 50 Ways to Save Energy & Money, Snohomish P.U.D.
Get easy-to-do tips that will save energy and money! Also, calculate how much energy your
appliances use (based on Snohomish County, WA, PUD rates).
- 40 Simple Ways to Save Energy, Los Angles Department of Water and Power
Learn 40 ways to save energy: 10 in the kitchen, 10 in the laundry room, and 10 with cooling & heating and 10 with cooling and heating.
- Quick and Easy Ways to Save Now, DOE
Interested in some quick and easy no-cost or low-cost measures that you can use immediately? Check out this site for more information.
- Natural Gas Vehicles, Natural Gas Foundation
Learn where and why these NGV's are most beneficial.
- Frequently Asked Questions about Advanced Vehicles, Union of Concerned Scientists
Explore the answers to such questions as, "What is a fuel cell?", "Can electric vehicles provide enough power to get people where they need to go?", and others.
Resources: Visit the Energy Information Administration to obtain the following resources (http://eia.doe.gov/)
- State Electricity Profiles
Profiles can be viewed in either PDF (requires Adobe Acrobat) or HTML format
(NOTE: Adobe Reader is needed to view this document. Please click here or visit http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html to download the latest, FREE version.)
- Energy Education Resources: Kindergarten Through 12th Grade
- American Gas Association
- Department of Energy home page
- Energy Information Administration home page
- Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network (EREN) home page
- United States Geological Survey (USGS) home page
- USGS Energy Resources home page
- USGS Energy Resources - Energy-Related Publications, Products, and Data
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory home page
- Department of Energy Fossil Energy page
- Nuclear Energy Institute home page
- American Coal Foundation home page
- International Solar Energy Society (ISES) home page
- American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) home page
- Natural Gas Information and Educational Resources home page
- American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) home page
- American Geophysical Union (AGU) home page
- American Petroleum Institute (API) home page
- Energy Education Resources: Kindergarten through 12th Grade , EIA - DOE
- How Electricity Works
- Geologic maps: State and local:
- The United States Geological Survey National Geologic Map Database contains information on how and where to obtain geologic maps. (http://ngmdb.usgs.gov/)
- Your state Geological Survey - find your state survey on-line at Association of American State Geologists (http://www.kgs.ukans.edu/AASG/AASG.html).
- Download state geologic maps at About.com's site. (http://geology.about.com/science/geology/cs/geomapsusstates/)
- Reading Geologic Maps - informative review on how to read and interpret geologic maps. (http://geology.about.com/science/geology/library/weekly/aa100800a.htm)
- Geologic maps: Regional (two or more states):
- The on-line bookstore of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (http://bookstore.AAPG.org; 918-584-2555)
- Topographic maps: Local
- The United States Geological Survey MapFinder allows you to order 7.5 minute maps online for $4 per map plus $5 s/h per order. (http://edc.usgs.gov/Webglis/glisbin/finder_main.pl?dataset_name=MAPS_LARGE)
- The United States Geological Survey maintains a list of Map Dealers. Click on your state to obtain a list of retailers who sell maps. (http://mapping.usgs.gov/esic/map_dealers/)
- The United States Geological Survey National Geologic Map Database site on How to find topographic maps (http://ngmsvr.wr.usgs.gov/Other_Resources/rdb_topo.html)
- TopoZone site allows you to download topographic maps (including USGS maps) for free, at various scales (from 1:100,000 to 1:24,000). (http://www.topozone.com/)
- MapServer offers free online viewing of topo, nautical and aeronautical charts plus high altitude digital ortho quads (nav photos). (www.maptech.com and www.mapserver.maptech.com)
- General Map Resources:
- An excellent list of map resources available online can be found on the Central Michigan University Resources for Earth Science and Geography Instruction web site. Included are links to sites to make maps, as well as links to free downloadable outline maps, satellite imagery, GPS, and GIS databases. (http://personal.cmich.edu/~franc1m/locamap.htm)
- "Maps" - USGS Earth Science Information Center, includes general map information, from how to read maps to how to obtain them. Also includes links to further information regarding topographic, thematic, planetary maps, and more. (http://ask.usgs.gov/maps.html)
- National Geographic (maps and videos): 1-800-962-1643 (http://www.nationalgeographic.com/maps/index.html)
- "Maps of the United States" - USGS fact sheet, contains a series of depictions of the United States, along with information on how to obtain additional US maps. (http://www.usgs.gov/fact-sheets/maps-us/index.html)
- "Maps of the World" - USGS fact sheet, contains a series of world maps, including outline maps, seismicity maps, and political maps. Also contains information for ordering more specific world maps. (http://www.usgs.gov/fact-sheets/maps-world/maps-world.html)
- "National Atlas Maps" - USGS site of a variety of US maps that are available online, including shaded relief maps, aquifer maps, and further information on how to order maps not available online. (http://www-atlas.usgs.gov/atlasmap.html?)
- 2001 US Natural Gas Distribution Companies Wall Map
- Splitting Atoms -- An Electrifying Experience
- Renewable Energy Videos, Pico Turbine Video
- Energy Videos, Bullfrog Video
A copy of this award winning 11 minute video (VHS format)
is available FREE of charge for educational purposes.
(Realplayer is needed for this download.)
- Geotimes, AGI
- FREE Energy Subscriptions
This magazine reviews current issues in the Earth Sciences and can serve as a valuable supplemental resource for teachers and students alike. Visit the web site for online articles and information about obtaining a one-year subscription (40% discount for AGI Member Society members; 65% discount for students). http://www.geotimes.org/current/