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Hydrofracking - with Chloride Data

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6-8, 9-12 Data Exploration & NOS

Hydrofracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a gas production technique where the natural gas is extracted from rock deep underground using a cocktail of water and chemicals (fracking fluid), injected with high pressure.  There are a number of ecological concerns related to this practice, one of which relates to the potential impact of water pollution from the release of waste water into the environment.  Since the fracking fluid mixes with water underground that has high levels of chloride, when it returns to the surface it retains this high level of chloride. Spraying this fluid as a means of de-icing has occurred in some areas, while in other places the waste water is discharged into surface waters or even sprayed in natural areas.  In this unit, students explore this idea using secondary data and first-hand investigations designed to help them understand how salt pollution impacts ecosystems function.    

  • Grades: 6-8, 9-12

    Students will understand the process of hydrofracking and will be able to use a short article to explain the benefits and drawbacks.    

  • Grades: 6-8, 9-12

    Students will know how to recognize variability in hydrofracking data, and will be able to make an appropriate graph of a selected variable in Excel or by hand. 

  • Grades: 9-12

    Students will know how to test for salt pollution in a water sample and will be able to explain whether their sample is contaminated by salt. 

  • Grades: 9-12

    Students will know what level of salt concentration affects aquatic plants and/or animals, and will be able to explain the results of an experiment to determine these levels.

  • Grades: 9-12

    Students will know how the hydrofracking fluid affected the health of the trees and soil in the forest, and will be able to explain the drawbacks of flowback water with respect to ecosystem health.