To Drill or Not to Drill? A Case Study in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection
This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the 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: Apr 2, 2012
To Drill or Not to Drill is a multidisciplinary problem based learning exercise, which intends to increase students' knowledge of a variety of topics through a real world environmental topic. In addition, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) impacts students either directly (depending on the age level) or indirectly (through their parents) as gas prices soar to record high levels.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
The students will gain a deeper understand of the tundra ecosystem and the Arctic.
- Examine the Arctic wildlife, habitats and animal migration patterns
- Develop an initial understanding of the interactions and interdependencies within ecosystems
- Examine the native people and how they relate to the environment.
The students will gain a deeper understanding of conservation biology.
- Understand species conservation and protection
- Understand the implications of habitat loss and fragmentation
- Grasp the changes in species migration patterns due to exploration and drilling in ANWR
The students will consider the economics and policy decisions that come with hot political issues.
- Identify economic problems, alternatives, benefits, and costs
- Compare benefits of drilling with costs of drilling on both local (i.e. increase in jobs) and global (i.e., price of oil) scale
- Understand public policy decisions relating to the environment to include management of renewable resources and management of nonrenewable resources
- Understand the Trust Doctrine versus Balance Doctrine
The students will understand the personal and social perspectives of drilling in a pristine environment.
- Understand how human actions affect ecosystems, both directly and indirectly
- Understand that natural ecosystems provide an array of basic processes that affect humans
- Examine supply/demand of natural resources and increasing human consumption of resources
- Discuss the US's primary source of energy and whether it is sustainable
- Discuss possible alternative sources of energy
Secondary goal (up to teacher): The student will examine the Arctic's role in global climate change and how drilling in the Arctic could impact the climate on a global scale.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
Description and Teaching Materials
Over a period of two classroom sessions, the teacher/faculty, representing the scientific community, provides overview of ANWR, including the flora and fauna, from and ecosystem perspective. The teacher/faculty present the Trust and Balance Doctrines as well as raises awareness of potential bias and exaggeration in heavily political issues such as this. The teacher/faculty hands out the letter from the Secretary of the Department of Interior.
Over a period of three classroom sessions, the students will research the topics within their group, answering questions from the Secretary of the Interior, turn in a position paper with their research, and prepare and deliver an opening statement to the class. Students debate the issue, in a formal style debate, and the student Arbitrators present relayed information from the perspectives of the Trust and Balance Doctrines. The students make a recommendation to the Secretary of the Department of the Interior.
Online drilling videos from both a pro and con perspective
Letter from the Department of Interior: There are several key stakeholders with this issue, including Petroleum Companies, Environmentalists, Alaska Natives, the State and US Governments, the American population, and Arbitrators. Each letter contains key criteria and questions to be considered in this activity, as well as a list of potential resources.
List of potential resources (e.g. web-based references)
Required Cover Letter: To Drill or Not to Drill (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 357kB Apr3 12)
Required Cover Letter: To Drill or Not to Drill (Acrobat (PDF) 179kB Apr3 12)
Student Handout: To Drill or Not to Drill (Acrobat (PDF) 243kB Apr3 12)
Teacher Notes: To Drill or Not to Drill (Acrobat (PDF) 242kB Apr3 12)
Teaching Notes and Tips
Lab Environment: Procedure outline above.
Classroom Environment (either 3 1-hour sessions or 2 90-minute session): Prior to Day 1, students conduct homework research on ANWR. Day 1, the students with guided facilitation by the teacher/faculty, discuss ecosystems, oil production, doctrines, and the significance of oil in society today. Day 1/2, Students are assigned roles and discuss key issues related to their role. Day 2/3, Students have an in-class debate, culminated by the Arbitrator discussion and recommendation. Homework, position papers written.
Accessibility: The activity inherently provides for multiple-learning styles, as students are watching video with auditory components and are actively engaged in discussion and debate. Other modifications can be made to accommodate learners with disabilities. For example, Cornell Notes is a strategy typically used in middle school teaching environment. The strategy provides students (specifically helping those with learning disabilities) with a means of pulling out key ideas, clarifying the materials and summarizing it. It prepares them for being better note takers. Specifically for students falling within the autistic spectrum, the role can be redefined where the student serves as fact checker for the arbitration team. For students who are hearing impaired or blind/visually impaired, all web-based materials are accessible, graphics enlarged, and they are actively included in all discussion.
References and Resources
Note: The following resources may need to be updated as sites occasionally go offline or change.
Lieberman, B. (2005, March 17). Opening ANWR: Long Overdue. Energy and Environment. Retrieved March 12, 2008, from http://www.heritage.org/Research/EnergyandEnvironment/wm692.cfm.
Arctic Power. (2008). Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Retrieved March 12, 2008, from http://www.anwr.org/.
Carlisle, J. (2001, January). Environmentalists' Opposition to Oil Exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Is Unfounded. National Center for Public Policy Research's National Policy Analysis. Retrieved April 12, 2008, from http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA324.html.
Knight, P. (2005, December). ANWR: To Drill or Not to Drill? There is No Question. National Center for Public Policy Research's National Policy Analysis. Retrieved April 12, 2008, from http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA535ANWR.html.
National Resources Defense Council. Arctic Wildlife Refuge. Retrieved April 12, 2008, from http://www.savebiogems.org/arctic/.
Alaska Wilderness League. (2008). Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Fact Sheets. Retrieved March 12, 2008, from http://www.alaskawild.org/news-and-events/fact-sheets/.
Sierra Club. (2008). Save America's Arctic: Chill the Drills and Fight Global Warming. Retrieved March 12, 2008, from http://www.sierraclub.org/arctic/.
United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Retrieved April 12, 2008, from http://arctic.fws.gov/.
McGrath, S. (2001, September). The Last Great Wilderness. Audubon. Retrieved April 12, 2008, from https://www.amazon.com/Audubon-Arctic-Great-Wilderness-Calendar/dp/1579653073.
Arnold, E. and Chadwick, A. (2005, November 8). ANWR Community Split on Oil Exploration. National Public Radio Broadcast. Retrieved on April 29, 2008, from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4994291.
Nageak, B. Inupiat Eskimos First, Best Environmentalists. Retrieved April 29, 2008, from http://www.anwr.org/people/nageak.html.
Gwich'in Steering Committee. (2005). A Moral Choice for the United States. Gwich'in Steering Committee. (2005). A Moral Choice for the United States. Retrieved April 29, 2008, from http://ourarcticrefuge.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/GSChumanrightsreport.pdf
National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Learning about Renewable Energy. Retrieved March 23, 2009 from http://www.nrel.gov/learning/.
U.S. Department of Energy. Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Retrieved March 23, 2009 from http://www.eere.energy.gov/.
The National Atlas. Renewable Energy Sources in the United States. Retrieved March 23, 2009 from http://www.nationalatlas.gov/articles/people/a_energy.html.
State Environmental Resource Center. Clean Energy. Retrieved March 23, 2009 from http://www.serconline.org/cleanenergy.html.
California Energy Commission. The Energy Story. Retrieved March 23, 2009 from http://www.energyarchive.ca.gov/energyquest/index.html.
Sarah Palin Press Releases (Google Search Results). ANWR. Retrieved March 27, 2009 from [http://google.state.ak.us/search?gov=yes&sort=date%3AD%3AL%3Ad1&output=xml_no_dtd&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&client=GOV&site=GOV&proxystylesheet=GOV&q=anwr&submit.x=8&submit.y=16].
Representative Don Young (AK) Press Releases (Search Results). Retrieved April 3, 2012 from [http://donyoung.house.gov/News/DocumentQuery.aspx?CatagoryID=5005].
Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK) Issues and Priorities (Search Results). Retrieved April 3, 2012 from https://www.murkowski.senate.gov/issues/issues-and-priorities.
Environment Canada. (2007, June 12). The Arctic Ecosystem. Retrieved April 3, 2012, from [http://www.ec.gc.ca/envirozine/default.asp?lang=En&n=DB93E6EF-1].
United States Geological Survey. (2008, April). Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) 1002 Area. Retrieved April 27, 2008, from [http://energy.usgs.gov/alaska/anwr.html].
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. (2007, February 6). Tundra Ecosystem. Retrieved April 29, 2008, from [http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/earth/tundra_ecosystem.html].
US Energy Information Administration. Oil Formation. Retrieved April 3, 2012 [http://www.eia.gov/kids/energy.cfm?page=oil_home-basics].
Essentials of Geology Forming Mineral Resources. Retrieved April 3, 2012 from [http://www.wwnorton.com/college/geo/animations/15.htm].
Freudenrich, C. (2008) How ANWR Works. Retrieved March 23, 2009 from [http://science.howstuffworks.com/anwr.htm].
Brull, S. (2004). Versatile by Nature: Exploring the Law of the American Wilderness. Vermont Journal of Environmental Law. Retrieved April 15, 2008 from, http://vjel.vermontlaw.edu/writing-competition/roscoe-hogan-environmental-law-essay-contest/2004-essays/versatile-by-nature-exploring-the-law-of-the-american-wilderness/