Three Animations To Help You Understand Fracking


Inside Energy has teamed up with AirWaterGas, a National Science Foundation Sustainability Research Network to understand some of the impacts of oil and gas development on our region. As drilling has gotten closer and closer to homes and communities, residents continue to wonder: Is it safe? How does it work? What are the tradeoffs? And, should I be worried?

AirWaterGas is a team of scientists, engineers, public health experts, educators, policy analysts, economists, and lawyers working together to address a single driving question:

How can we better integrate research about the environmental, economic, and social tradeoffs of oil and gas development into policies and regulations governing development?

Part of AirWaterGas’ mission, and the mission of Inside Energy, is to share what we learn and know about energy development with our audience and, importantly, with educators who can share our stories with students and the communities where they live. In 2015, eight AirWaterGas Teachers in Residence – science teachers from areas of Colorado with rapid oil and gas development – created a suite of classroom activities to help middle and high school students understand the environmental and economic impacts and engineering related to oil and gas wells.

This year, Inside Energy, with the help of animator MacGregor Campbell and our former data journalist Jordan Wirfs-Brock, augmented some of that curriculum with short, animated videos that help bring the topics down to earth for students (and, let’s be honest, all of us). If you’d like to use these videos to talk with students or your own children about oil and gas development, each video has an accompanying lesson plan geared towards 6th-12th graders—enjoy!

Why Fracking, And Why Now? – What is hydraulic fracturing, why has it become such a dominant technology for the oil and gas industry, and why is it so controversial? This video explores how economics, technology, and geology all play a role in the fracking boom using pastries as an analogy. There are two accompanying lesson plans: Make a Fracking Model Activity (Grades 6-12) and Rock Porosity Experiment (Grades 6-10)

Water Use in Hydraulic Fracturing – Key concerns for critics of fracking include the demand for water resources, and potential for water pollution. This video explains how much water is used in fracking, and how it is disposed of after the fracking process. Accompanying lesson plan: Water Use in Hydraulic Fracturing (Grades 6-8).

Drilling: A High Stakes Game – Who decides where an oil or gas well is drilled? There are many players involved. In this video, we look at all the stakeholders in the process and address how decisions are made about drilling in and around communities. Don’t miss the excellent lesson plan that pairs with this video, Boomtown Game (Grades 6-12).