Search for Resources

Natural Gas: A Cleaner Energy Solution or Just Another Fossil Fuel?

Secondary

Description

Students explore current information about natural gas and compare its greenhouse gas emissions to those of other fossil fuels. They take positions and debate the question: Should we  expand our use of natural gas as an energy resource, using it as a "bridge fuel" to more sustainable energy practices in the future? Students support their position with evidence from a systems-based analysis of the extraction, leakage, and combustion of fossil fuels.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

The activities targets the following critical thinking skills

  • analyzing
  • applying
  • evaluationgunderstanding

and the following learning and innovation skills

  • engaging in argument from evidence
  • collaboraation

Strengths

This is a good resource for a variety of reasons.

  • the issue/questions raised is/are real and significant
  • the background resources provided allow for the required depth of study
  • the pedagogy adopted includes a good mix of teacher and student directed learning
  • the thinking and organizational skills promoted by the lesson have universal application   

Recommendation of how and where to use it

Natural Gas: A Cleaner Energy Solution or Just Another Fossil Fuel? is an excellent resource in those subject areas that examine the issues related to renewable and non-renewable energy, climate change, human-environmental interaction, and more generally developing the critical thinking skills that are a prerequisite to informed citizenship.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Alberta
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Manage ideas and information
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environment and Outdoor Education: Environmental Investigations
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Chemistry
        • Knowledge and Employability Science: Environmental Chemistry (Social and Environmental Contexts Emphasis)
    • Grade 10
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • English 20: Manage ideas and information
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 20-4 (Knowledge and Employability Science): Understanding Common Energy Conversion Systems
        • Science 24:Understanding Common Energy Conversion Systems
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Manage ideas and information
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 30: : Energy and the Environment
  • British Columbia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Energy is conserved and its transformation can affect living things and the environment
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science for Citizens 11:Scientific processes and knowledge inform our decisions and impact our daily lives
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 12: Living sustainably supports the well-being of self, community, and Earth.
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physical Geography 12: Interactions between human activities and the atmosphere affect local and global weather and climate
  • Manitoba
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Manage ideas and information
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geographic Issues of the 21st Century: Natural Resources
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Manage ideas and information
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Current Topics in the Sciences 30S: Science, Technology, Society & the Environment
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Manage ideas and information
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Geography: A Human Perspective - World Resources, Energy, and Environment
  • New Brunswick
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Learning and Living Sustainably (STSE)
        • Science 10 Science for Sustainable Societies
        • Science 10 Science for Sustainable Societies: The Nature of Science
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physical Geography 110: Natural Regions of the World
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Advanced Environmental Science 120: Earth Systems
        • Introduction to Environmental Science 120: Investigating Environmental Issues
        • Introduction to Environmental Science 120: Sustainable Development
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Canadian Geography 120:A Geographic Perspective on a Current Canadian Issue
        • Canadian Geography 120:Managing Natural Resources
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Canadian Geography 1202: Economic Issues in Canadian Geography
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Geography 3200/3202: Primary Resource Activities
  • Northwest Territories
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Plan and focus an inquiry or research and interpret and analyze information and ideas, through a process
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Manage ideas and information
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Experiential Science 10, Terrestial Systems: Resource Management and Population Dynamics
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Manage ideas and information
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 24: Understanding Common Energy Conversion Systems
  • Nova Scotia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography 10: Spaceship Earth
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography of Canada 11: Patterns of Development
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • AP Environmental Science: Energy Consumption and Resources
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Global Geography:Resources and Commodities
  • Nunavut
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Plan and Focus
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry and the Environment
        • Knowledge and Employability Science: Environmental Chemistry (Social and Environmental Contexts Emphasis)
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Experiential Science 10, Terrestial Systems: Resource Management and Population Dynamics
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • English/Language Arts
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Manage ideas and information
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science24:Understanding Common Energy Conversion Systems
    • Grade 12
  • Ontario
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Academic): Geographic Inquiry and Skill Development
        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Academic): Interactions in the Physical Environment
        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Academic): Managing Canada's Resources and Industries
        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Applied): Geographic Inquiry and Skill Development
        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Applied): Managing Canada's Resources and Industries
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Hydrocarbons and Energy
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science (Workplace Prep.) Energy Conservation
        • Environmental Science (Workplace Prep.) Natural Resource Science and Management
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Regional Geography (Univ./College Prep.) Dynamics and Change
        • Regional Geography (Univ./College Prep.): Sustainability and Stewardship
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • (College Prep.) Chemistry in the Environment
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ./College Prep) : Ecological Systems: Interactions and Interdependence
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ./College Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship of Natural Resources
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ/College Prep.) Community Action
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Workplace Preparation): Human-Environment Interactions
        • World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (College Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship
        • World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (Univ. Prep.): Social Change and the Quality of Life
        • World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (Univ. Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship
  • Prince Edward Island
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography 521A, Global Studies: Physical Patterns of the World
        • Geography 531A (World Geography): Physical Patterns of the World
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 621A: Environmental Challenges and Successes
        • Environmental Science 621A: Natural Resources
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography 621A Global Issues : Inquiry- What are the issues?
        • Geography 631A Global Issues: What are the issues?
  • Quebec
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science & Technology: The Earth and Space
        • Science and the Environment: The Earth and Space
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Energy is conserved and its transformation can affect living things and the environment
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science for Citizens 11:Scientific processes and knowledge inform our decisions and impact our daily lives
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 12: Living sustainably supports the well-being of self, community, and Earth.
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physical Geography 12: Interactions between human activities and the atmosphere affect local and global weather and climate

Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Climate Change
  • Energy (1)

    • Energy Generation
  • Science and Technology (2)

    • Analysing Conventional Science
    • Appropriate Technology

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

The resource poses a question about the merits of natural gas relative to other fossil fuels. Students undertake a structured investigation designed to have them consider the advantages and challenges of different fossil fuels in meeting energy demands. The investigation concludes with a debate in which the competing perspectives of the students are presented and challenged. The format is therefore deliberately designed to encourage the promotion and defense of different points of view.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Very Good

The resource provides a framework in which students develop position statements with supporting evidence on the merits of natural gas. Central to that framework is an emphasis on what the resource calls " system model thinking" which requires that students consider the economic, environmental, and social consequences of any given fuel choice.  

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Very Good

The introduction to the resource alerts students to the need to take a "systems model thinking" approach in their investigation. They are reminded that energy decisions in the real world are complex. Economic, political, environmental, and social factors are often taken into consideration. To apply a systems perspective when considering a fossil fuel's impact on climate, one would investigate the emission's involved with extraction, transportation, and the combustion process in order to obtain an in-depth understanding of the implications of the energy choice.  

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

The teaching approach adopted by the lesson plan is described as "learning - for- use". This means that emphasis is placed on providing students with the skills necessary for them to invesitage and issue, to develop a position on that issue, and to defend that position. These skills are necessary if students are to undertake action on the natural gas debate or any other issue. 

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Very Good

The systems model approach adopted in exploring the merits of natural gas requires that students assess the environmental, social, and economic benefits and challenges associated with its development. Such an exercise may be expected to help students consider the value they give to each and the debate format will further help them clarify the priority they attach to each of these concerns. 

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

While not an overt objective, one may assume that any investigation of the causes and consequences of climate change assumes a concern for humans and may lead to a heightened understanding of the challenges it presents to different regions and diverse peoples.   

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

In helping students investigate and debate the potential impact of different fossil fuels on climate, the resource helps students gain a better understanding of the consequences of climate change for the Earth and all living things.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good

The lesson plan does not direct the teacher or the student towards an examination of the local relevance of the exploitation of natural gas but since "fracking" of natural gas is an issue currently being debated in all regions of the country, such a link would be natural.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good

The investigation of the benefits and challenges of natural gas is viewed relative to the use of other fossil fuels in the past and its possible use as a "bridge" fuel as we plan for a future less dependent on CO2 generating fuels. 

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Very Good

The lesson presents students with a question -Is natural gas a cleaner energy solution or just another fossil fuel?  and then outlines a systems model approach designed to have them articulate and defend their answer to the question posed  

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Very Good

In investigating the question posed by the lesson plan teachers and students would need to incorporate a variety of subjects.

  • Geography - factors that determine climate 
  • Environmental Science - comparing environmental costs of different hydrocarbons
  • Chemistry/Physics - differentiate fossil fuels based on energy and carbon output characteristics 
  • Language Arts - obtaining, evaluating, communicating information
  • Social Studies - current events/issues

It should be noted that the lesson plan advocates a systems thinking approach that would require students to integrate these subjects in pursuing their response to the question asked.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good

The lesson plan determines the question to be addressed - How does natural gas compare with other fossil fuels? - and provides students with a series of organizers to assist in investigating the issue, articulating a response to the question and debating the competing perspectives which emerge from their investigations. 

The question is both relevant and significant and the answer is determined by the students.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory

The lesson plan adopts a variety of teaching strategies to explore and debate the question posed.

  • teacher directed discussion
  • analyzing podcasts and related resources
  • writing and reviewing position statements
  • debating
Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good

The lesson plan has both a specific and general application. Students explore an issue - natural gas resource development - that is both current and significant but they also exercise intellectual skills that are important if they are to participate as informed citizens in the debate on other issues of the day.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Good

Students work with others in their group (for/against) in preparing for and participating in the debate on natural gas as a bridge fuel to more sustainable energy practices in the future. 

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Good

The resource outlines a number of informal assessment opportunities

  • self - assessment of completed KWL charts
  • peer review of student's Position Statement Rubric
  • assessment of group work using the Position Statement Rubric and Debate Rubric
Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Good

As part of their preparation for the debate on natural gas, students develop individual position papers with supporting evidence. These position papers are then subject to peer review followed by open discussion in which students offer constructive criticism on the arguments they have read

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good

The resource includes, as additional resources, a number of case studies that are part of National Geographic Education about Energy Case Studies series.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Good

The lesson plan includes a combination of teacher directed discussion and student activities. In organizing for and participating in the debate, students may assign or assume responsibilities that reflect their interests and talents.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.