The Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing: Hands-On Activities for Undergraduate Students
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According to the US Energy Information Administration, over 50% of the oil and natural gas produced in the US came from hydraulically fractured wells in 2015. While the economic and geopolitical benefits of this new industry are numerous, hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is still controversial because of its negative impacts on the environment such as ground and surface water contamination, air pollution, and increases in seismic activity near deep injection wells. Yet, it is only briefly mentioned in mainstream Geography textbooks and rarely taught in introductory Geography courses at Texas A&M. To address the current educational gap on fracking, I developed and implemented educational materials and associated activities that utilize several geographic learning methods. Specifically, I (1) prepared an introductory fracking lecture for GEOG 203 students, (2) prepared a debate scenario where students present alternative viewpoints about the impacts of fracking on local communities in the United States, (3) developed a data-driven exercise using Oklahoma earthquake data where students learn to analyze, graph, and interpret scientific datasets, and (4) assessed the success of some of my learning module via before and after quizzes. In 2016 and 2017, this fracking module was successfully implemented in GEOG 203, one of the top two core curriculum courses at Texas A&M related to environmental literacy. With this successful trial, I plan to disseminate the fracking module with an open-access publisher, making our documents freely available to all. Likewise, the hands-on exercises will be made freely available through the NAGT website.
Curriculum and Instruction
Kohlmeyer, Collin J (2017). The Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing: Hands-On Activities for Undergraduate Students. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from