Process of Science > Browse examples for Teaching the Process of Science > Oil Demand and Consumption

Oil Demand and Consumption

Authored by Steve Iona, University of Denver
Author Profile

This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection

Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.



This page first made public: Jun 29, 2009

Summary

Using US Government data from the Energy Information Administration in the Department of Energy, students create models of future oil demand and predict the time frame when cumulative oil demand exceeds oil reserves.

Using a limited number of data points regarding demand, students can create mathematical and graphical models (e.g., linear, exponential, polynomial) to fit the data.

Using the models, students can forecast future yearly energy demand and the cumulative energy demand over time.

Knowing that the estimated oil reserves in the world is 134,000 x 106 barrels, students will predict that oil consumption meets or exceeds the reserves in 2030-2050. Moreover, if we would discover another deposit equivalent to the current Middle East reserve, oil consumption meets or exceeds these new reserves in 2060-2080.

Learning Goals

Context for Use

This activity can be introduced and monitored during a 45-minute lecture setting. It requires computer access by individual or small groups of students. It works best if students already have some familiarity with Excel.

I have used this activity with non-science majors.

Description and Teaching Materials

World Oil Demand and Reserves

Using US Government data from the Energy Information Administration in the Department of Energy, students create models of future oil demand and predict the time frame when cumulative oil demand exceeds oil reserves.

The PowerPoint slides describe:

Using a limited number of data points regarding demand, students can create mathematical and graphical models (e.g., linear, exponential, polynomial) to fit the data.

Using the models, students can forecast future yearly energy demand and the cumulative energy demand over time.

Knowing that the estimated oil reserves in the world is 134,000 x 106 barrels, students will predict that oil consumption meets or exceeds the reserves in 2030-2050. Moreover, if we would discover another deposit equivalent to the current Middle East reserve, oil consumption meets or exceeds these new reserves in 2060-2080.
Overview of Oil Demand Activity (Microsoft Word 26kB Jun29 09)
PPT Background (PowerPoint 1.7MB Jun29 09)
Intro Spreadsheet (Excel 17kB Jun29 09)

Teaching Notes and Tips

Data collection, calculations, presentations, and analysis are critical processes of science. This activity requires that students use past information to make predictions about the future. This aspect allows students to practice the reasoned approach to model application as a process of science. The activity also asks students to identify social and political implications of the results. This too is a process of science.

Assessment

Each student or group of students can be asked for a prediction of when the oil consumption curve reaches the predicted reserve value. Students can be asked to describe and print out their model data sets and graphs. They can also be asked to identify why they believe that their mathematical model is the best.

References and Resources

http://www.eia.doe.gov
This is the Energy Information Agency for the US government. While it may provide biased data, it is the official agency for the government. If any bias exists, I predict that it would be toward lower energy consumption values and larger energy reserve values so that the case could be made that the current energy policy, production levels, and projected needs are both favorable and aligned.

See more Browse examples for Teaching the Process of Science »


« How to use the HR diagram       Why Should You Be Scientifically Literate? »