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Study Guides and Activities

A Toolkit for Teachers and Parents

Thank you for considering fossil energy education in your classroom curriculum. The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy is excited to present printable study guides and activities emphasizing the importance of coal, natural gas, and petroleum to our everyday lives. More importantly, we hope to familiarize students with the science and technologies that make using fossil fuels cleaner.

We hope you find our information useful.  If you have any comments or suggestions regarding our educational materials, please contact us.

Elementary School

  • Coal Study Guide: Focuses on the basics of coal, history of coal use, conversion of coal into electricity, and climate change concerns.
  • How Much Does it Cost to Light Your Classroom?: A classroom activity that challenges students to compute the cost of electricity used to light their classroom and school for various lengths of time. They then compute the amount of coal needed to produce the electricity used in their classroom.
  • Conserving Electric Energy: A classroom activity whereby students participate in two experiments in which they gain an appreciation for their dependency on electricity, and learn how regulating the rate of energy consumption makes the energy source last longer.
  • Games and Puzzles:
        Word Find (including answer key)
        Crossword Puzzle (including answer key)

Middle School

  • Coal Study Guide: Provides an age-appropriate discussion of the history of coal, how and where it is mined, and its uses. Presents a more detailed description of how scientists have been able to clean up coal using gasification and carbon sequestration technologies.
  • Natural Gas Study Guide: Discusses the history of natural gas use, and how it is produced. 
  • Oil Study Guide: Explains where oil can be found underground, and the processes for bringing it to the surface.
  • Online Energy Lessons: In this series of interactive energy lessons, students can learn about the history of fossil fuels and their future potential. 
  • Teacher Resources from FE's National Energy Technology Laboratory
  • The JASON Project: The JASON project, a nonprofit subsidiary of The National Geographic Society, connects students with great explorers and great events to inspire and motivate them to learn science. FE/NETL scientists and engineers participate in this program. 

High School

  • Fossil Fuels Study Guide: A one-page primer explaining how coal, natural gas and petroleum were formed.
  • Coal Study Guide: Provides broad overview of coal types, uses of coal, and coal mining. Provides more detailed discussion of the science behind coal gasification technology and carbon sequestration (particularly geologic carbon sequestration).
  • Natural Gas Study Guide: Discusses natural gas drilling, uses, storage and delivery, and future sources of natural gas including methane hydrates and liquefied natural gas (LNG).
  • Oil Study Guide: Explains oil drilling (primary and secondary recovery techniques), oil refining, offshore drilling, and the national Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
  • Teacher Resources from FE's National Energy Technology Laboratory
  • Build a Floating Oil Rig: The U.S. Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service developed this teacher's guide about the many energy resources found in, over, and under the ocean. Includes sections on petroleum, natural gas, and methane hydrates. Hands-on activities include drilling for oil in the ocean, and building a floating oil rig.
  • Learn About Petroleum Careers: The International Society of Petroleum Engineers developed this Web site to list the types of careers available within the petroleum industry - from geologist to energy economist.
  • Keystone Curriculum on Climate Change: The Keystone Center, in partnership with the Department of Energy and the National Energy Technology Laboratory, presents over 65 lessons developed to introduce middle and high school teachers and their students to the topic of climate change and to provide new ways of thinking about the problem and potential solutions.