Lesson Plans for Teachers
Get Into the Game
A global oil crisis has begun. Oil usage worldwide has increased to where the oil supply can only meet 95 percent of the demand. Begin the inquiry into the effects of less oil in our lives.
How Bad Can It Get?
Fuel prices rise in anticipation of when actual supplies start to run short. It's clear that there is no quick fix to the shortage. Tensions start to rise.
Life Is Starting to Change
Widespread changes are starting. Goods and services that depended on cheap oil are failing.
Elasticity and Collapse
This lesson investigates the factors that define elasticity in relation to oil—factors such as lifestyle, geography, setting and community.
The oil crisis has caused some nations to reconsider their foreign policy objectives—and to aggressively seek to acquire oil.
Food Without Oil
The impact of oil on our food supply is one of the most serious aspects of the oil crisis. Shortages are forcing many people to look for locally grown food.
Governments have been hit as hard as anyone by the crisis, leading to the existence of red and green zones in cities and refugee camps in rural areas.
Preparation and Community
With problems piling up and the government unable to help, many communities across the nation are turning inward for solutions.
Now that the crisis has stabilized, how do we go forward? How do we balance our desire for energy's benefits with the risks and costs of procuring it?
Your World Without Oil
Help out the World Without Oil team. Script and deliver your own citizen report that communicates what is happening to you in the crisis.
TEACHERS: LESSON ONE
Get Into the Game
A global oil crisis has begun. Oil usage worldwide has increased to where the oil supply can only meet 95 percent of the demand. This lesson imagines the day when this reality first hits the news and asks students to get into the game by playing as if it were really happening in their lives. Their inquiry into the effects of less oil in the world around them and their personal search for ways to live well while consuming less energy will bring up issues about petroleum use and allocation, renewable and non-renewable resources, the role of energy in economy and culture and more.
In this and succeeding lessons, you will present developments in the oil crisis as though they were really happening and ask the students to deal realistically and personally with the life-changing reality of this oil shortage. As their inquiry brings up topics and issues, you can use resource information we provide to enhance students' understanding.
- Immerse themselves in the realistic World Without Oil (WWO) scenario.
- Examine the facts about oil consumption in the United States and the world.
- Develop a basic understanding of the relationships among supply, demand, price and availability of a resource in a market economy.
- Develop a basic understanding of the "life cycle" of a non-renewable resource (the Hubbert curve).
- Begin to develop strategies predicated upon anticipated events.
- Begin to reflect on the life changes that would occur in a prolonged oil shortage, a process that will continue and develop throughout the World Without Oil lessons.
Before the Lesson
- Read the Week 1 news report.
- Review Petroleum Products in our Daily Lives and identify 10-15 products that might most impact your students' lives.
- Preview the resource materials (links below).
- Prepare your own "in-game" reaction to the events unfolding in World Without Oil. How will an oil shortage affect you personally? What most worries you? What actions are you taking in response? What can the common people do to make things better? If you can, blog it and have your students follow your blog.
Part 1: Set the Stage
Student Page for this lesson >>
This page summarizes ideas and instructions for students.
1. Introduce the situation to the class: "Did you hear? Oil prices increased dramatically today. They say a shortage is coming! Here, watch this video." Get "into game" and act as though the oil crisis were really happening, lapsing "out of game" only when it's necessary for students' understanding.
2. Show Kal's first video - "Oil Spike!" and Anda's webcomic about college students.
3. Introduce the challenge: Students must immerse themselves in this new reality and figure out how the coming shortage will affect them and their families, in order to avoid the worst of its impacts. What risks to their quality of life do they see? What will each student do in response to these risks? Encourage them to get "in game" throughout the WWO lessons.
4. Introduce the related ideas of "collective intelligence," "crowdsourcing" and "citizen journalism." Put forth this thesis: "Oil is such a pervasive part of modern life that it will take all of us working together to plot out and chronicle the impacts of an oil shortage."
Part 2: Take Action
1. Divide the students in groups of three to five students. NOTE: Most of the lessons will involve some level of student collaboration and discussion. You may want to select groups based upon ability level and maintain the same groups throughout the World Without Oil lessons.
2. Have each student group discuss the following questions:
- What are your initial reactions to a spike in fuel prices and the coming oil shortage?
- How might your life have to change? How serious are those changes? How ready are you to make them?
- How do you think life might change for other people? Will this affect you?
- Why did oil prices rise so fast? Why did the announcement, "an oil shortage is coming" cause fuel prices to rise immediately?
- Some say that in the United States we are "addicted to oil." Do you see truth in that statement? Why or why not?
3. Have the students read reactions from WWO players and compare these ideas to their own. Assign a different pair to each group:
4. Have one member from each group share the group's overall reactions. Record the key points made by each group. Keep this list and as events unfold during the game, discuss how perceptions have changed and add new items.
Part 3: Lesson Activity
How well did your students do in discerning the pervasive effects of oil in our culture? Did they realize that petroleum is necessary for many products besides fuel? Present the products you selected from Petroleum Products in our Daily Lives.
Did your students discern that oil is indirectly necessary for almost all products and services today? Beyond the direct connections (transportation and other direct energy generation, petroleum products), did they think of all the indirect connections?:
- Oil moved the tractor that grew my food.
- Oil moved the truck that brought iPods to my store.
- Oil mined the coal that generated the power that pumped water to my city.
- Oil moved the ambulance that took my Aunt Martha to the hospital so that my cousin Samantha could be safely born.
Could we have seen this oil crisis coming? Give an overview about oil production and consumption.
Project the Oil Quiz from Our Finite World.
For each question, poll the class. Reveal the answer and discuss its implications. You can also use the discussion questions found at the bottom of the article.
Part 4: Reflect
You've immersed the students in the crisis; given them an initial understanding of the very real problems they and their families might face there; begun to explore the intricate connections we all have to cheap energy from oil; and established the reality of the world's oil situation. For their first reflection, have students share their first reactions to the current situation. Use the following question to help guide their reflections:
How are you personally connected to oil and what does this crisis mean to you? Your answer can incorporate your new understanding of oil and changes that you personally may have to make if the situation worsens.
Part 5: Take It Further
Distribute this to your students (and if appropriate refer them to your blog):
You've learned a lot today about oil and its role in modern society. To take it further today, get into the game:
- Read the Week 1 news report at World Without Oil.
- Prepare your own "in-game" reaction to the events unfolding in World Without Oil. How will an oil shortage affect you personally? Looking ahead, what most worries you? What actions are you taking in response? What can the common people do to make things better?
Post your findings on your blog and if you can, add photographs, drawings, audio files or video.
View the student page for this lesson >>
View lesson two >>
World Without Oil Classroom Home >>
National Standards (McREL)
Overarching (All Lessons)
Understands the search for community, stability and peace in an interdependent world
Level IV (Grades 9-12), Benchmark 2:
Understands rates of economic development and the emergence of different economic systems around the globe (e.g., systems of economic management in communist and capitalist countries, as well as the global impact of multinational corporations; the impact of black markets, speculation and trade in illegal products on national and global markets; patterns of inward, outward and internal migration in the Middle East and North Africa, types of jobs involved and the impact of the patterns upon national economies; the rapid economic development of East Asian countries in the late 20th century and the relatively slow development of Sub-Saharan African countries)
Lesson 1: Specific Standards
Understands characteristics of different economic systems, economic institutions and economic incentives
Level IV, Benchmark 1:
Understands that the effectiveness of allocation methods can be evaluated by comparing costs and benefits
Level IV, Benchmark 5 :
Understands that in every economic system consumers, producers, workers, savers and investors respond to incentives in order to allocate their scarce resources to obtain the highest possible return, subject to the institutional constraints of their society
Understands the concept of prices and the interaction of supply and demand in a market economy
Level IV, Benchmark 1:
Understands that the demand for a product will normally change (i.e., the demand curve will shift) if there is a change in consumers’ incomes, tastes and preferences, or a change in the prices of related (i.e., complementary or substitute) products
Level IV, Benchmark 5:
Understands that shortages or surpluses usually result in price changes for products in a market economy
Understands basic features of market structures and exchanges
Level IV, Benchmark 6:
Understands that a natural monopoly exists when it is cheaper for one supplier to produce all of the output in a market than for two or more producers to share the output (e.g., electric companies)
Level IV, Standard 5:
Understands unemployment, income and income distribution in a market economy
Level IV, Benchmark 2:
Understands the concept of supply and demand in the labor market
Understands strategies used in natural resource management and conservation
Level IV, Benchmark 5:
Knows traditional energy sources (e.g., petroleum, coal, wood) as well as alternative energy sources (e.g., wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, biofuels)
Understands the changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution and importance of resources
Level IV, Benchmark 2:
Understands programs and positions related to the use of resources on a local to global scale
Level IV, Benchmark 3:
Understands the impact of policy decisions regarding the use of resources in different regions of the world
United States History
State Standards (All Lessons)
Understands economic, social and cultural developments in the contemporary United States
Level IV, Benchmark 1:
Understands how changes in the national and global economy have influenced the workplace
Lesson plans by Dan McDowell and Ken Eklund
Reviewed by Cari Ladd