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WGBH Educational Foundation, Teachers' Domain

This video segment, adapted from Need to Know, discusses how the process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is used to extract natural gas and how the process may be polluting water resources with hazardous chemicals, leading to health concerns.

Video length: 5:44 minutes.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas
High School: 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas

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

  • Fracking is a controversial political subject. This video may be used to introduce a discussion of the tradeoffs between need for increased energy supply and environmental damage and human health impacts that may result from extraction activities.
  • Another discussion point could be the question of confidentiality with respect to intellectual property vs public health.

About the Science

  • An animated diagram shows how the process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is used to extract natural gas.
  • The resource also discusses the health and pollution problems that are potentially associated with the process.
  • One of the challenges of investigating the possible link between the contaminants and illness is that the gas industry is not required to disclose which chemicals they use in fracking fluids, as that information is protected by intellectual property rights.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The video and background essay provide a good basic description of hydraulic fracturing. Attention is given to relevant concerns and benefits, and the science appears to be accurate if somewhat one sided. It appears the resource was produced prior to 2012, based on the facts that the Need to Know television series that it draws from ceased production in 2013 and the essay makes reference to a report to be released in 2012. Understandings of fracking's impacts and industry transparency have both changed in the intervening years. While secrecy related to exact compositions of fracking fluids remains a concern, industry is considerably more likely to reveal fluid composition now than was the case four years ago.

About the Pedagogy

  • A background essay, discussion questions, and a link to standards are provided.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The resource has closed captioned text.
  • The video resolution is not sufficient for classroom projection. Educators can download this video via a free registration with Teachers' Domain.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

MS-ESS3.A1:Humans depend on Earth’s land, ocean, atmosphere, and biosphere for many different resources. Minerals, fresh water, and biosphere resources are limited, and many are not renewable or replaceable over human lifetimes. These resources are distributed unevenly around the planet as a result of past geologic processes.

MS-ESS3.D1:Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 3

HS-ESS3.A1:Resource availability has guided the development of human society.

HS-ESS3.A2:All forms of energy production and other resource extraction have associated economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical costs and risks as well as benefits. New technologies and social regulations can change the balance of these factors.

HS-ESS3.D1:Though the magnitudes of human impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are human abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts.

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