This website explains how petroleum is processed. It opens with a 2½-minute video about how petroleum was formed hundreds of millions of years ago from the remains of prehistoric, microscopic plants and the process they go through (photosynthesis) to create the energy that fuels our cars and warms our homes. The video is followed by an interactive that demonstrates distillation and treatment of hydrocarbons.
The site is one of the Energy in a High-Tech World resources developed by Science NetLinks with support from the American Petroleum Institute.
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The movie has an accompanying script that students can access by clicking on "print" in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. The narrator speaks rapidly, so it is a good idea to print the script to read after watching the movie the first time. After reading the script, students can watch the movie a second time, which will facilitate understanding.
At the end of the movie, students will be led to the interactive that demonstrates the distillation process. Students can dump crude oil, start a furnace, and treat the oil, as well as click on the resulting hydrocarbons to learn how they are treated and used. The education button links to information and Science NetLinks lessons on the chemistry of petroleum.
This interactive would be useful in a chemistry or earth science class. One way to use the resource would be to break it up so that students could view just the video first as part of a motivation for a lesson. Then, they could move into the interactive and use it to learn more about how petroleum products are made.
Chemistry of Petroleum 3: Distillation of Hydrocarbons
9-12 | Video
Chemistry of Petroleum 4: Treatment of Hydrocarbons
9-12 | Interactive
Searching for Oil: The Role of Science and Technology
6-12 | Audio
9-12 | Interactive