The extraction of gas from shale rock – hydraulic fracturing, or fracking – is widespread in the USA. Whilst some countries in Europe have banned fracking following concerns that substances used in the process pollute water, others want to exploit shale gas reserves to provide new – and cheap – sources of natural gas. In this activity, students decide whether they support a ban on fracking. They apply their knowledge of the properties of rocks to decide whether substances from fracking can get into water, and learn how to justify opinions.
SEQUENCE FOR ADVANCED USERS
This material is called a Sequence, as it is designed to last two lessons. It explicitly teaches an important Working Scientifically skill, as well as developing science knowledge.
Earth structure: explain why a rock has a particular property based on how it was formed (KS3 Science Syllabus)
Justify opinions: give opinions, present evidence to support their opinions, and explain their reasoning (KS3 Science Syllabus)
Try the activity
Note: There are four different versions of the lesson presentations. Download the ones for the country you teach in.
Running the activity
Engage Get students interested in the issue of fracking, its benefits and possible links to water pollution and related health implications
Review Students review their understanding of why rocks have particular properties, and consider whether substances from fracking fluid can get into water
Consider Students consider whether substances from fracking fluid can harm humans
Engage Review the dilemma about whether fracking should be banned
Play Students play a game to learn how to justify opinions
Decide Students critique the claim made about cycling before writing a response Groups use information about fracking, as well as new skills in justifying opinions, to plan and present a one-minute talk about whether fracking should be banned
For detailed running notes, download the teachers guide.
A neutral view of fracking, explained in 5 minutes
Explanation of fracking from a fracking company
Several videos against fracking from a campaigning organisation
This article from Deutsche Welle summarises the current state of play for fracking in European countries, and includes a useful map.
This article reports on a recent EU report on fracking.
A clear and relatively balanced report on fracking
A report about contaminated drinking water in the USA
This long and detailed article describes pollutants from substances used in fracking, written from a particular perspective.