Middle and High School Curriculum


Middle and high school science teachers from across Colorado came together in the summer of 2015 to write curriculum on topics related to oil and gas development. Teachers were part of the AirWaterGas Teacher Professional Development course. With the guidance of curriculum experts at the UCAR Center for Science Education, and the science expertise of AirWaterGas researchers, each activity has been carefully reviewed for pedagogical and scientific accuracy.

Curriculum Topics


Make a Fracking Model Activity. Grades 6-12.

Students design a model to demonstrate how hydraulic fracturing aids in extracting oil and gas from shale deposits thousands of feet beneath the earth’s surface.


Myth or Fact: The Real Fracking Story. Grades 7-12.

In this interactive presentation, students guess whether statements about fracking are myths or facts and then learn the evidence that supports or refutes the statements from an unbiased scientific point-of-view. 


Rock Porosity Experiment. Grades 6-10.

Students will investigate the porosity and permeability of rock formations that may hold oil, gas, and water.

cup of water

Water Use in Hydraulic Fracturing Lesson. Grades 6-8.

Students collect data to make calculations about their daily water usage and then turn those calculations into a scale model to compare personal usage amounts to water use at local hydraulic fracturing sites. Students will find information about water usage by hydraulic fracturing sites in their communities using FracFocus.


Boomtown Game. Grades 6-12.

Boomtown is a hybrid board game, modeled after Monopoly®, intended to teach students the value of ecosystem services. An ecosystem service is any positive benefit that wildlife or ecosystems provides to people. The benefits can be direct or indirect – small or large.


 The Ecosystems Services in Your Community Teaching Box. Grades 6-12.

How is your community impacted by its surrounding ecosystem?  Ecosystem services impact a community’s economy, culture, health and wellness.  Human activities can alter these services, therefore changing the benefits a community gets from its ecosystem.   How can we as humans take care of our ecosystems, while also supplying the resources we need in a safe and healthy manner?  Explore ecosystem services with a variety of activities related to the health and sustainability of a community and its surrounding ecosystem.

** A teacher could use this teaching box as a four-week unit on ecosystems.  Teachers could also pick and choose specific activities to fit with their own unit on ecosystems.  Please note that the extension activities would not be as effective without prior lessons around ecosystem services.


Energy Management Activity. Grades 6-8.

Students will use an online simulation to experience how cities can be sustainable, plan energy production, monitor public and environmental health, and balance a budget.


Global Warming Potential Activity. Grades 7-12.

This activity is designed for students to model the global warming potentials of three major greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) over two time horizons and to model the atmospheric concentrations in parts per million (ppm) of each gas.   Students will analyze the similarities and differences of the gases and make inferences.


The Greenhouse Gas Jeopardy Game. Grades 7-12.

This jeopardy game is designed to help students interpret graphs and diagrams related to atmospheric greenhouse gases.  The jeopardy game is accessible online and there is a printable greenhouse gas information sheet that accompanies the game and is intended for students to use in search for answers to jeopardy statements.


Trapping Heat with Carbon Dioxide. Grades 6-8.

In this activity students will investigate the heat trapping ability of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, using 2-liter soda bottles, Alka-Seltzer tablets, and a heat lamp.


Is it a Greenhouse Gas? Grades 9-12.

Students will collect, read, analyze and interpret data on different gases to determine if there is evidence to support the claim that the gas is a greenhouse gas. Then they will develop a written paragraph using evidence to support their determination or claim.


Light Matters Activity. Grades 9-12.

This simulation has students look at the interaction of sunlight and infrared on the Earth’s surface as well as carbon dioxide molecules in the atmosphere.