Natural Gas Formation

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Resource Type:Classroom Activities; Curricula and Instruction
Grade Level:
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Organization:American Geosciences Institute (AGI); Earth Science Week (ESW)
Summary:Natural gas, which is mostly methane, is an energy resource used for generating electricity and heating, powering transportation, and manufacturing products. Right now, one-quarter of the world's energy comes from natural gas. Natural gas formation, one of the processes occurring on our ever-changing Earth, takes a very long time. Natural gas is formed from marine organisms that die, sink to the bottom of the ocean, and get covered with sediments. Most of the dead organisms decay before becoming covered with sediments. Some of them, however, are buried along with the rest of the sediment. As more and more sediment is deposited over time, the temperature slowly increases. If the pattern of the temperature increase is just right, some of the dead organisms are changed into natural gas and oil. In this investigation, you will make a simple model of how gases can form from decaying material. You will also explore the effects of temperature on gas formation.
Earth Science Big Ideas:Big Idea 7
NGSS Discplinary Core Ideas:ESS3.A
NGSS Performance Expectations:HS-ESS3-1; MS-ESS3-1
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:Analyzing and interpreting data; Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering); Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering); Engaging in argument from evidence; Using mathematics and computational thinking
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts:Cause and effect: Mechanism and explanation; Patterns; Stability and change; Systems and system models
Subjects: earth science week; energy; energy resources; environment; geology; minerals; natural gas; oil and gas; resources; rocks
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