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Fossil Fuels

Teacher Guidelines ▶ pages 1 – 2


Instructional Pages ▶ pages 3 – 6
Activity Page ▶ pages 7
Practice Page ▶ page 8
Grade Level: 4 – 6

Homework Page
Answer Key


page 9
page 10 - 11
Classroom Procedure: Approximate Grade Level: 4 – 6
Objectives:
1. Ask students: When you hear the word fossil, what thoughts
do you have? The students will be able to define and identify fossil
fuels, how they are formed, where found, and how
2. Allow for responses and discussion. Ask: When you hear processed for use. The students will be able to list
the word fuel what thoughts do you have? advantages and disadvantages of fossil fuels.

Common Core State Standards:


3. Allow for responses and discussion. Ask students what it
means when the two words are put together: fossil fuels? CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.4.1.c

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.4.5
4. Allow for responses and discussion. Introduce Fossil Fuels.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.5.1.c
5. Distribute Fossil Fuels content pages. Read and review
the information with the students. Save the final question CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.5.5
for the lesson closing. Use the additional resources to CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6.4
enhance understanding. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6.7
6. Distribute Activity page. Read and review the instructions. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6.10
Pair students. Assign each pair of students one of the
Class Sessions (45 minutes):
fossil fuels. Remind students they must work together
on both posters. You may allow students to use images At least 3 class sessions.
from magazines or the Internet, but may be drawn. Allow Teaching Materials/Worksheets:
sufficient time, perhaps 2 class sessions, to research
Fossil Fuels content pages (4), Activity pages,
information and complete the posters. Practice page, Homework page
7. Circulate through the room ensuring students stay on task Student Supplies:
while reviewing slogans, mottos, etc. Once completed, Construction or poster paper, markers or colored
students will share the posters with the class. pencils, access to Internet or other sources,
handouts
8. Distribute Practice page. Check and review the students’
responses. Prepare Ahead of Time:

Pair students for activity, supplies. Copy handouts.


9. Distribute the Homework page. The next day, check and
review the students’ responses. Options for Lesson:

Students may work alone or in groups for the


10. In closing, ask students: Imagine you are constructing a activity. For the activity, assign more than one fossil
new home and could only choose one source of energy, fuel. Assign each student one perspective to create
which must be a fossil fuel. Which fossil fuel would you the poster, students would work alone. Students
choose and why? vote for best, most creative, persuasive, etc. poster.
Invite a utility company representative to speak to
11. Allow for responses and discussion. Following the the class. Invite an environmentalist to speak to the
class. Assign students alternative renewable fuels
discussion, ask students about using solar energy or other to research and present.
renewable energy sources.

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Teacher Notes
The lesson introduces students to oil, gas, and coal-fossil fuels. Most students have heard the term fossil fuels,
but may not fully understand where they are formed and found on the earth. In addition, students will learn
about the processing of fossil fuels for use in homes, vehicles, power plants, etc. The lesson also includes
the disadvantages of fossil fuel use. The lesson may be used with other lessons related to the environment.
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Additional Resources:
Content:
http://www.softschools.com/facts/energy/fossil_fuel_facts/407/
http://www.kidzworld.com/article/1423-fossil-fuel-energy
http://tiki.oneworld.net/energy/energy3.html
http://www.kidcyber.com.au/fossil-fuels/
http://wiki.kidzsearch.com/wiki/Fossil_fuel
http://www.sustainableschools.sa.edu.au/files/pages/Dont%20waste%20your%20energy/DontWasteYourEnergyWeb.pdf
Worksheets:
http://bpes.bp.com/primary-resources/science/ages-7-to-9/electricity/fossil-fuels-resources/
http://www.brysoneducation.org/teachers/support_materials/energy_worksheets.asp
http://www.apsenergyconservation.org/PDF/MS-FormationOfFossil.pdf
http://www.need.org/Files/curriculum/guides/FossilFuelsToProducts.pdf
https://www.edhelper.com/ReadingComprehension_54_711.html
Videos:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaXBVYr9Ij0 (3 min)
http://www.teachertube.com/video/fossil-fuels-with-bill-nye-77641 (6 min)
http://www.onegeology.org/extra/kids/energy.html (Links to...)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jakJ-Tf79ac (3 min)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUJysq0o5JU (6 min)
http://nationalminingmuseum.com/kids-zone/fossil-fuel-formation-vimeo/ (9 min-coal)

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Plants and Fuel
What do plants have to do with fuel? As you know, all plants get their
energy from the Sun through a process called photosynthesis. You get
energy from the plants and animals you eat. The fruit, vegetables, meat,
breads and other foods you consume become fuel for your body. Indirectly
then, the energy you need also comes from the Sun.
Without the energy from food, and of course the water you need, you could not survive. When you think of it,
the food you eat for energy is like the oil and gas in a car. Without oil and gas, a car would not have energy
to take you from place to place. In addition, your home needs energy to help you see and keep you warm.
The energy is provided by a power plant, which also uses fuel that often comes from coal or natural gas.
In short, the fuel used in vehicles, homes, businesses, and other places comes from oil, natural gas, and
coal. The fuels provide energy. All energy comes from the Sun. If all energy comes from the Sun, then it is
logical to say that oil, natural gas, and coal would not be possible without the energy from the Sun.
However, as plants and people use energy from the Sun immediately, the energy used for vehicles, homes,
and businesses comes from fuel that has taken millions and millions of years to be developed and processed.
Oil, natural gas, and coal are called fossil fuels.
As you know, fossils can be the ancient remains of plants and animals. About 300 million years ago, the
Earth was mostly covered with extremely dense forests and swamps. There were no people cutting down
trees or eating food for energy from the plants. However, the energy did not leave the plants when they died.
When the plants and animals died, they would slowly decay, and then over time become buried under layers
and layers of soil, mud, silt, or sand.
Due to high temperatures and the extreme pressure on the remains,
the once living things were transformed into fossil fuels.

Coal
The most abundant fossil fuel in the United States is coal. Coal is a
combustible (burnable) black or brown rock made up of carbonized
plant matter. In other words, coal is a rock that has come from
those dead and decaying plants from millions and millions of years
ago. Today, it is burned and used for energy.
Coal has been used longer and more often than any other fossil fuel. Humans have been using it for
hundreds or possibly thousands of years. One of its earliest uses was powering steam engines in trains.
Coal is burned at power plants to produce electricity, and used in the production of plastics, tar, fertilizers,
and some medicines.

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As with all fossil fuels, coal is a nonrenewable energy source. It is classified as nonrenewable because it
takes millions of years to form.
The classification of coal is based on the amount of carbon the coal contains and the heat energy it can
produce. The four types and a few facts about each (as of 2015) are as follows: (% of carbon)

• Anthracite: (86% to 97%) It is the highest heating value, accounts for less than 1% of all coal mined in
the U.S., used mostly in the metals industry.
• Bituminous: (45% to 86%) It is approximately 100 to 300 million years old, most abundant coal in the
U.S., used to generate electricity, raw material for making iron and steel, mostly mined in five states- West
Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Indiana.
• Subbituminous: (35% to 45%) Most is about 100 million years old, heating value is lower than bituminous,
nearly half of the coal mined in the U.S, mostly found in the state of Wyoming.
• Lignite: (25% - 35%) Lowest energy content, a “young” coal not subjected to the extreme heat and
pressure, crumbly, high moisture, used to generate electricity but some has been converted to synthetic
(artificial) natural gas.

There are also problems with coal as a fossil fuel. It causes substantial air, ground, and surface water
pollution; is a steady supply of greenhouse gases; and leads to many mining and transportation accidents.
In addition, strip mining, the removal of soil and rock above coal deposits, has affected large areas of the
Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia and Kentucky. The tops of mountains are removed using explosives,
and the landscape and surrounding areas are dramatically changed.
As of 2017, in the United States, coal generates about 30% of the electricity produced in the U.S.

Oil
Crude oil was also formed from plants and animals that lived millions of years ago, but it exists in liquid form
in underground pools or reservoirs. Most oil deposits began forming at the bottom of the ocean’s surface.
It is found in tiny spaces within sedimentary rocks or near the surface in tar or oil sands.
One of the best areas in the world where crude oil formed is the land in the Middle East and North Africa. At
one time, this land was covered by the ancient Tethys Ocean. Due to plate tectonics and the changes in
the Earth’s crust, the ocean no longer exists, but the giant oil basins in the region remain.
Most of the crude oil cannot be used as it is found but it is sent to a refinery where petroleum products are
made. At the refinery, different parts of the crude oil are separated resulting in a variety of products such as
gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil, jet fuel, waxes, lubricating oils, crayons, asphalt, and many other products.
A 42-gallon of crude oil can be refined into about 45 gallons of petroleum products.

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Petroleum products made from
a barrel of crude oil, 2016

Humans have known about crude oil for hundreds of years, but
volumes

its use mostly began in the mid-1800s when it was refined and Ultra‑Low Sulfur
made into kerosene, replacing whale oil, which was used for oil Distillate­–11 Other Distillates
(Heating Oil)– <1
lamps. The kerosene was much less expensive and Americans Jet Fuel­–4
quickly began using crude oil for other products. Heavy Fuel Oil
Other Products–6 (Residual)– 1

Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Russia are the top three oil
Hydrocarbon Gas
Liquids–2

producers in the world, and the United States, China and Japan
are the top three consumers of the oil produced. In many parts Gasoline–20
of the world, gasoline and oil may be called “petro” or petroleum.
Oil is a nonrenewable energy source and it too has problems
associated with it. When it is burned, it gives off dangerous
greenhouse gases contributing to global warming and acid rain.
Car exhausts release gases into the air leading to diseases such
as cancer and asthma, as well as causing damage to buildings.
As of 2017, in the United States, oil generates only about 0.6% of
the electricity produced in the U.S., but 70% of all oil consumed
in the U.S. is used for transportation.

Natural Gas
The third nonrenewable fossil fuel is natural gas, a flammable gas consisting largely of methane and other
hydrocarbons. It occurs naturally underground in the same manner as the crude oil; the decayed plants and
animals transform into coal, oil, or natural gas. The gas moved into large cracks and spaces between layers
of overlying rock, and can be found in coal deposits.
First-time use of natural gas occurred during the 19th century when it was used in streetlamps. Robert Bunsen
invented a burner (Bunsen burner) in 1885 which mixed gas and air to produce a steady flame for cooking
and heat. The widespread use of natural gas in the U.S. did not begin until the 1900s when thousands of
miles of natural gas pipelines were built across the country.
In its natural state, the gas is odorless, colorless,
and tasteless. Distributors of natural gas add
a chemical called mercaptan that smells like
sulfur or rotten eggs. It is a safety device which
helps detect natural gas leaks in the atmosphere.
Once the gas is located, like oil, drilling is used to
access the gas, which flows up through pipes and
is stored in underground tanks. When natural
gas is chilled, the gas is turned into a liquid and
can then be transported by tanker.

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About 15 million vehicles in the world run on natural gas, but the gas is mostly used to generate electricity,
for cooking, and to heat buildings.
Natural gas is relatively a clean burning fossil fuel and results in fewer emissions of nearly all types of air
pollutants and carbon dioxide than coal or oil. If natural gas does leak into the atmosphere it adds to the
greenhouse gases. If a leak occurs in an area where natural gas is produced, it is safer to burn off the gas
than to allow the methane gas to escape into the Earth’s atmosphere.
Natural gas exploration, drilling, and production can also negatively affect the environment disturbing
vegetation, as well as polluting water sources when hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is used to access natural
gas in layers of shale. Fracking requires large amounts of water, produces large amounts of waste water,
and may be a cause of small earthquakes in areas where the process is used.
The United States is the number one consumer of natural gas followed by Russia, the European Union and
China.
Coal, oil, and natural gas are nonrenewable fossil fuels used by many people throughout the world. In the
United States, the three major fossil fuels account for 78% of the country’s energy production. The remaining
production: 12% is from renewable energy sources such as solar power and 10% from nuclear electric power.
Though each fossil fuel has advantages, the fossil fuels can also cause problems for the environment.

Imagine you are constructing a new home and could only choose one source of
energy, which must be a fossil fuel. Which fossil fuel would you choose and why?

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Activity Name __________________________ Date _________

Instructions
1. Supplies: Construction or poster paper, markers or colored pencils, access to Internet or other sources
2. You and your partner will be assigned one of the fossil fuels by the teacher.
3. You will learn as much as possible about the fossil fuel using the content pages, the Internet, or other
sources.
4. You will each work together and create both posters.
5. POSTER 1: The benefits of using the fossil fuel.
a. From the perspective of the oil, gas, or coal industry
b. Should be positive and upbeat, encouraging its use
6. POSTER 2: The disadvantages of the fossil fuel.
a. From the perspective of a person wanting to prevent the use of fossil fuels
b. Should be more negative, may offer alternatives to the fossil fuel
7. Be creative; the posters should be eye-catching, should contain some facts or figures to help the perspective
8. You can create slogans, mottos, or other images and drawings that help encourage the viewer of the
poster to agree with the perspective.
9. Before completing a final copy of the posters, create rough drafts.
10. Once completed, you will share both posters with the class.
11. Use the space below for a first rough sketch of your posters:

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Practice Name __________________________ Date _________

Tell if each term is related to Coal (C), Oil (O), and/or natural gas (N). Give additional information
about the term(s) using it in the explanation of how it is related to the fuel(s).

1 drilling

2 nonrenewable

3 mercaptan

4 Sun

carbonized plant
5
matter
crayons, wax, jet
6
fuel

7 fossil fuel

bituminous and
8
lignite

9 fracking

10 Tethys Ocean

Tell the type of coal described.


11. Half of all coal mined in the U.S., mostly in Wyoming, 100 million years old_______________________
12. Not subject to extreme heat and pressure, made into synthetic natural gas_______________________
13. 100 to 300 million years old, made into iron/steel, most abundant in U.S.________________________
14. Highest heating value, less than 1% of all coal in U.S., used in metals industry____________________
15. Mined in five states: West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Indiana.__________________

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Homework Name __________________________ Date _________

Tell whether each fossil fuel problem is related to Coal (C), Oil (O), or Natural gas (N)
1 When burned, gives off dangerous gases contributing to global warming and acid rain.
2 It causes substantial air, ground, and surface water pollution; greenhouse gases.
3 Exploration can negatively affect vegetation and pollute water sources.
4 Often leads to many mining and transportation accidents.
5 May result in large amounts of waste water.
6 Strip mining has affected large areas of the Appalachian Mountains.
7 Car exhausts release gases into the air leading to diseases.
8 Tops of mountains are removed using explosives, and the landscape dramatically changes.
9 One process used may result in minor earthquakes.
10 Burning may cause asthma, damages buildings.

Answer each question.


11. Where does all energy come from? _____________________________________________________
12. What is the process called when plants receive its energy from the Sun?________________________
13. What 2 conditions are needed to create fossil fuels?________________________________________
14. What is the most abundant fossil fuel in the United States?___________________________________
15. What was one of the earliest uses of coal?________________________________________________
16. What is the classification of coal based upon?_____________________________________________
17. What landform are most oil deposits found? ______________________________________________
18. What must happen to crude oil before it can be used?_______________________________________
19. What do many people in the world call gasoline?___________________________________________
20. What fossil fuel is mostly used for transportation?__________________________________________
21. Who is Robert Bunsen?_______________________________________________________________
22. What 3 countries in the world use the most natural gas?_____________________________________

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Practice Answer Key
Name __________________________ Date _________

Tell if each term is related to Coal (C), Oil (O), and/or natural gas (N). Give additional information
about the term(s) using it in the explanation of how it is related to the fuel(s).
Oil and natural gas is found by drilling into the Earth’s surface, and then
1 O, N drilling using pipes the fuel flows up through pipes and stored in tanks.
Coal, oil, and gas are all nonrenewable fossil fuels because they take
2 C, O, N nonrenewable millions of years to form and replace.
Distributors of natural gas add a chemical called mercaptan that smells
3 N mercaptan like sulfur or rotten eggs, used as a safety device.
Plants & animals receive energy from the Sun, the energy, after millions
4 C, O, N Sun of years, is found in decayed plants for oil, coal, and natural gas.

carbonized plant Coal is a combustible black or brown rock made up of carbonized plant
5 C matter, coming from decayed plants/animals from millions of years ago.
matter
crayons, wax, jet Crayons, wax, and jet fuel are some of the products produced when oil is
6 O refined.
fuel
Oil, natural gas, and coal are fossil fuels; they are the fuels that result
7 C, O, N fossil fuel from decayed plants and animals over millions of years.

bituminous and Two types of coal, both used for electricity. Bituminous is the most abun-
8 C dant in the U.S., Lignite is a “young” coal, crumbly.
lignite
A term used for hydraulic fracturing, a method used to access natural gas
9 N fracking in layers of shale, uses large amounts of water, may cause quakes.
Much of the world’s oil is found in Saudi Arabia and North Africa in an
10 O Tethys Ocean area of land once covered by the ancient Tethys Ocean.

Tell the type of coal described.


11. Half of all coal mined in the U.S., mostly in Wyoming, 100 million years old Subbituminous
12. Not subject to extreme heat and pressure, made into synthetic natural gas Lignite
13. 100 to 300 million years old, made into iron/steel, most abundant in U.S. Bituminous
14. Highest heating value, less than 1% of all coal in U.S., used in metals industry Anthracite
15. Mined in five states: West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. Bituminous

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Homework Answer Key
Name __________________________ Date _________

Tell whether each fossil fuel problem is related to Coal (C), Oil (O), or Natural gas (N)
1 O When burned, gives off dangerous gases contributing to global warming and acid rain.
2 C It causes substantial air, ground, and surface water pollution; greenhouse gases.
3 N Exploration can negatively affect vegetation and pollute water sources.
4 C Often leads to many mining and transportation accidents.
5 N May result in large amounts of waste water.
6 C Strip mining has affected large areas of the Appalachian Mountains.
7 O Car exhausts release gases into the air leading to diseases.
8 C Tops of mountains are removed using explosives, and the landscape dramatically changes.
9 N One process used may result in minor earthquakes.
10 O Burning may cause asthma, damages buildings.
Answer each question.
11. Where does all energy come from? sun
12. What is the process called when plants receive its energy from the Sun? photosynthesis
13. What 2 conditions are needed to create fossil fuels? High temperature and extreme pressure
14. What is the most abundant fossil fuel in the United States? coal
15. What was one of the earliest uses of coal? steam engines of trains
16. What is the classification of coal based upon? Amount of carbon coal contains
17. What landform are most oil deposits found? oceans
18. What must happen to crude oil before it can be used? It must be refined
19. What do many people in the world call gasoline? petro or petroleum
20. What fossil fuel is mostly used for transportation? oil
21. Who is Robert Bunsen? Invented the Bunsen burner which used a mixture of air and gas for a lamp
22. What 3 countries in the world use the most natural gas? U.S., Russia, and the European Union

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