Studying Fracking as an Academic Exercise

The New York Times offers a suggestion for how a teacher may help students to learn about fracking:
Overview | What is hydraulic fracturing? Why is it so controversial? In this lesson, students will define hydrofracking, identify how the demand for natural gas is changing, then research and map how natural gas development may impact a community.
Materials | Projection equipment, computers with Internet access, and a large map. (If gas drilling is a reality or possibility in your region, use a map of your county; if not, you might want to create a fictional map.)
Warm-Up | Before students arrive, write the words “natural gas” and “hydrofracking” in the center of the classroom board, circling both terms. When students enter, have them work in small groups to brainstorm everything they know, think they know, or may have heard about both, taking notes. They may supply one-word reactions, facts, personal experience,or anything else that is relevant. Next, invite groups to report what they discussed, and write their contributions on the board.
Explain — if students have not — that natural gas is a fossil fuel burned for energy. Ask students if they know what fuel is used to heat their homes, their bathwater and the food on their stoves. If needed, you might briefly discusshow natural gas was formedwhere it is found, or how it gets from under the ground and into homes.
If students have not defined hydrofracking, you might offer the Times Topics page definition: “A drilling method called hydraulic fracturing, better known as hydrofracking or fracking, in which large amounts of sand, water and chemicals are injected deep underground at high pressures.” Ask: Why do you think this method is controversial?
Read the rest of the lesson plan here.

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