Lesson Plan

Fossil Fuel Extraction and the Environment


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In this lesson, students investigate the extraction methods of fossil fuels from the Earth’s surface. Students will:

  • analyze text selections explaining fossil fuel extraction methods.

  • link possible environmental impacts to fossil fuel extraction methods.

  • apply the concept of permeability in analyzing a petroleum trap.

Essential Questions

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  • Auger mining: The removal of coal by giant drills (augers), usually at the base of an open-pit excavation.

  • Cap rock: An impermeable rock layer that does not allow petroleum to move through it.

  • Impermeability: Property of not allowing fluids to flow through.

  • Longwall mining: A form of underground coal mining where a long wall of coal is mined in a single slice and placed onto a conveyor belt.

  • Open-pit mining: Surface mining of coal in which overlying rocks are removed to expose coal for extraction.

  • Permeability: The measure of how easily fluid can flow through a rock.

  • Porosity: The measure of the amount of space in between the particles that make up a rock.

  • Reservoir: A rock layer that holds petroleum.

  • Room-and-pillar mining: Large “rooms” of coal are extracted from underground, leaving some of the coal behind as “pillars” to hold up the overlying rocks.


90 minutes

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