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The Formation of Fossil Fuels - Earth: The Operators' Manual

Geoff Haines-Stiles Productions, Earth: The Operators' Manual

This video segment from the Earth Operators Manual summarizes how fossil fuels are made, provides a comparison of how long it takes to store energy in coal, oil and natural gas, and discusses how fast we're using them.

Video length 2:25 min.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • A stimulating introduction for deeper exploration into the carbon cycle.

About the Content

  • Accurate and easy-to-follow story of fossil fuel formation, from photosynthesis to geologic transformation into coal, oil, and natural gas. Narrated by geologist, Dr. Richard Alley.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific strengths: It is a very basic and short explanation, in non-technical terms, of how fossil fuels were formed, and why burning them adds, unavoidably, CO2 to the atmosphere.
    Suggestions: The short film clip does not provide a path for further research, but that can not really be crammed into 2.5 minutes. One can use other resources for that.

About the Pedagogy

  • A good overview of fossil fuel formation that can help set the stage for more detailed activities.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Well-produced, professional segment from an hour-long PBS program.
Entered the Collection: February 2019 Last Reviewed: December 2016

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