ARCHIVED CONTENT: In December 2020, the CZO program was succeeded by the Critical Zone Collaborative Network (CZ Net) ×

Educational Resources

The Case of the Muddy Waters: Hydrofracturing impacts

Muddy, brown water rushes down a stream. Image: Brantley, S. (2014, April 9)
Muddy, brown water rushes down a stream. Image: Brantley, S. (2014, April 9)
The Case of the Muddy Water uses authentic data to investigate the impacts of hydrofracturing. The objective of this lesson is to introduce the potential impacts of natural gas extraction through data analysis.

Grades 13 - 14
Computer Activity 

Educational Objectives

Conceptual Learning Outcomes

  • Students are introduced to the potential impacts of natural gas extraction on water resources
  • Students learn about topography and water sources in Pennsylvania
  • Students develop reasoning and data analysis skills

Practical Learning Outcomes

  • Students use HydroClient to discover, download, and view data
  • Students answer questions using the Larry's Creek Watershed Profile Fact Sheet from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission
  • Students answer questions about and graph turbidity and precipitation

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Higher Education

Observatory: Shale Hills CZO

Author(s): Sharon Dykhoff (Dominion Christian School), Susan Brantley (The Pennsylvania State University), and Liza Brazil (CUAHSI)

Details for this Resource

First, students will be given an introduction to the importance of topography when studying surface and groundwater. After enough background information is provided, Students will graph and analyze water quality data as they investigate the cause of an actual point source contamination incident in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. The students will use the web-based computer application HydroClient to access data from the Shale Network. The Shale Network is a project which helps scientists and citizens publish data about water resources that may be impacted by shale gas drilling. After analyzing the data and drawing conclusions, the students will use records from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to find out if the drilling company was found to be at fault.