Summer Research Program for Science Teachers


Jason Choi

Sleepy Hollow High School

August 2005


“The Oil Crisis”



The purpose of this activity is to get the students to think about the importance of oil to our society.  Furthermore, this activity is designed to show students the economic, political, and environmental impact of our dependence on oil.





Prior to the lesson, students will be asked to interview a parent, guardian, or teacher about the Oil Crisis in the 1970’s.

At the beginning of class, students will be asked to estimate the number of automobiles that are registered in the United States.  Students will be given the graph depicting US petroleum consumption, production and import and asked to brainstorm possible reasons for the trends in the graph. 

The first half of the Modern Marvels Oil video will be shown to the class.  Students will then discuss how the widespread use of oil has transformed our society.  They will be asked to contrast current living conditions to living conditions that existed prior to oil. 

Students will be assigned computers to research the following queries.  Each set of queries will be followed by a class discussion.  Since students will research using different internet sites, they may come up with differing information which would make for a good discussion of assessing the source of internet information.



What are the top five oil consuming countries?

What are the top five countries with the highest GNP?



Is there a correlation between oil consumption and wealth?  If so, why?



What are the top five oil producing countries?

What are the top five countries in oil reserves?



What are the political ramifications of your findings?

How are oil reserves determined?

How is oil transported from producer to consumer?



Compare the price of gasoline in the US to Europe

Chart the price of gasoline over the last five years



What reason might lead to different prices of gasoline between the US and Europe?

Why has the price of gasoline increased over the past five years?

How might our lives be affected by the price increase in gasoline?



Chart the carbon dioxide emissions over the past fifty years

Chart the average global temperature over the past fifty years



Is there a correlation between carbon dioxide emissions and global warming?  As tempting as it may be, students should be wary of comparing two sets of data to show causation since the price of bread over the past fifty year would look eerily similar.


Additional Research Projects 






Write a short story describing life when the oil wells run dry



Science Standards

One of the reasons for this plan is to incorporate more of the history of scientific development and for the students to examine the role science and technology has in society and on our daily lives.  Hopefully this plan frames the science concepts in a context that has more relevance and application to the students’ lives.

Furthermore, it gives the students an opportunity share their research and creativity with their classmates. 

More specifically, the following aspects of the national content standards are addressed by this plan: