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Teacher’s Guide

Teacher’s Guide

This teacher’s guide will help you use the e-SMARTkids site to educate your students about energy and the safe use of natural gas.

We’ve included an overview of the site’s structure and content, and suggestions for enhancing students’ learning through classroom discussion and further exploration.

Site Overview

The e-SMARTkids site (peoples-gas.e-smartkids.com) uses games, video, information, and activities to teach students and their families natural gas science and safety principles. The site is geared to a range of interests and reading levels and can be used by students in elementary and middle school. Nonreaders will need adult assistance to play the games.

This site features an informational section for teachers (you’re in that section now), a section for parents with safe digging precautions and emergency response tips, and a section for students that features six educational components. 

1. Games—Interactive games that simulate common indoor and outdoor natural gas hazards, and an interactive science experiment, give students a chance to put safety principles into practice. 

  • Find the Hidden Dangers. This game teaches students to recognize and correct gas-related hazards in and around the home.
  • Make the Sustainable Choice. This game helps students understand how their daily choices affect the environment.
  • How Dense Can You Be? This interactive activity demonstrates the principle of density through an animated experiment of pouring oil and water into a bottle. 

2. Gas Safety Tips—This section presents topics of natural gas safety in more detail. It covers the warning signs of both indoor and outdoor natural gas leaks, what to do in case of a leak, and specifics on safe practices around gas appliances in the home. It also discusses procedures for contacting the utility locator service before outdoor digging projects.

3. Animated Video—In Natalie and Gus Explore the World of Natural Gas, a lively cat and mouse team teaches natural gas safety. In addition to covering the origins, distribution, wise use, and environmental benefits of natural gas, the video discusses potential hazards around gas appliances and how to use them safely.

4. Natural Gas History—This section presents historic milestones in the development of natural gas as a fuel source.

5. Natural Gas FAQ—Questions and answers that convey interesting facts about natural gas science, history, safety, and distribution. These are changed periodically.

6. Home Inspection—A checklist with 10 safe practices around potential natural gas hazards that students might engage in at home.

Encourage your students to share this website with their families.

Enhancing Students’ Learning

You can reinforce what students learn on this website by reviewing the key safety objectives for each component and conducting a classroom discussion. Here are some suggestions:

Find the Hidden Dangers Game

After students play these games, discuss the main safety tips and principles they contain.

  • Gas Safety Practices in the Home. Why is it so dangerous to store flammable objects near gas appliances? (Gas appliances use a flame and some, like an oven or heater, can get hot enough to set fire to something flammable that is close by. Also, the fumes of flammable liquids could be ignited by the flame or pilot light inside a gas appliance.) Why shouldn’t you use the natural gas oven to heat your kitchen? (It can damage the oven.) Why is it unsafe to play on gas pipes in the home? (You could damage the pipes and cause a gas leak.)
  • Gas Pipeline Safety. Natural gas travels in underground pipes. Ask students why, if their family is planning a digging project, they should call the utility locator service at 811. (So underground utilities can be marked for safety.)

How Dense Can You Be? Activity
This activity can be done online or in the classroom. For classroom use, print the pages from the online version and use them as handouts. The answer for the multiple-choice question is “b. the oil, water, and air have different densities.” For the density chart, first have students divide the mass by the volume to figure out the density. (Answers: air is .00125 g/ml; oil is .92 g/ml; and water is 1.0 g/ml.) Please note: On the first page of the online version, students must use their mouse to lift the measuring cups over to the bottle and pour the liquids into it.

Gas Safety Tips

After students read all three sets of tips, review each safety objective and conduct a class discussion about specific tips and information.

  • Safety Objective: To teach students the potential danger and signs of an outdoor gas pipeline leak, and how to respond safely.

    Discussion:
    What are the signs of an outdoor gas leak? (A smell of sulfur or rotten eggs; a hissing or roaring sound; dirt spraying or blowing into the air; continual bubbling in water; grass or plants that are dead or dying for no apparent reason.) Ask students what they should NOT do when there is a pipeline leak. (Do not use fire, electricity, a flashlight, or a cell phone. Do not return to the area until safety officials say it is safe.)
  • Safety Objective: To explain the hazards associated with natural gas stoves, appliances, furnaces, water heaters, and visible pipes.

    Discussion: Why is it unsafe to keep a doll or toy near a natural gas stove burner? (They could catch on fire.) Why is it important to keep the flame the same size as the pot that’s over it? (Flames that are too high can be a fire hazard and can waste energy.) What is wrong with a large, yellow, or flickering flame? (The stove’s burner is not working correctly and should be checked out by a gas repair person.) Why is it dangerous for young children to play with oven knobs or other gas appliances or pipes? (They could accidentally turn the gas on.)
  • Safety Objective: To provide detail on the correct procedures in case of an indoor gas leak.

    Discussion:
    Ask students if they recall the correct procedures for when they smell an indoor gas leak. (Leave the house and take everyone with them. Do not use a light switch, garage door opener, match, flashlight, or phone, as a spark could ignite the gas. Call the gas company from a trusted neighbor’s or from a cell phone far away from the area.)
  • Safety Objective: To prevent digging into an underground pipeline, which can be dangerous.

Discussion: Where do gas pipelines run? (Underneath streets, sidewalks, yards, and buildings.) Why is it dangerous if you hit a gas pipeline when digging? (Even a small leak can cause a fire hazard.) What does the local utility locator service do? (Makes sure underground pipelines and other utilities are clearly marked with small colored flags or letters and symbols so people can dig a safe distance away.) What happens if you tamper with these flags and markings? (You put others at risk of contacting an underground line.) What should you do if you know an adult who is planning a digging project? (Have them call the utility locator service by dialing 811 at least two business days before starting to dig.)

Animated Video

After students watch the video, review each objective and conduct a class discussion about specific tips and information.

  • Objective: To understand the sources and uses of energy.

Discussion: Energy is the ability to do work or make things move and it is used in many different ways. Ask students what type of energy animals and humans use. (Food energy.)  Cars use energy too. Ask students to name some sources of energy. (Natural gas. The sun. Others include oil, coal, wind power, and hydropower.)

  • Objective: To learn where natural gas comes from and how it gets to our homes.

Discussion: Natural gas was formed long ago, deep underground. It was formed millions of years before humans existed, and transformed into gas by the earth’s heat. The gas was then trapped by layers of rock. Geologists now send shock waves down from the earth’s surface to locate it. Then it is pumped up through wells that are constructed both on land and in the ocean. Ask students how natural gas is delivered to our homes, businesses, and factories. (Through underground pipes.)

  • Objective: To understand the many uses of natural gas in our lives.

Discussion: Ask students to name some of the ways natural gas is used in and around our homes. (For cooking, heating, heating water, drying clothes, and transportation.)

  • Objective: To identify the advantages of natural gas as a vehicle fuel.

Discussion: Natural gas vehicles (NGVs) produce much lower exhaust emissions than gasoline-powered vehicles, because natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel. Ask students if any of them have ever ridden in or seen an NGV. (Many school buses run on natural gas!)

  • Objective: To know how to safely respond to a gas leak at home.

Discussion: Ask students if they have ever smelled leaking gas. What did it smell like? Explain that a chemical called mercaptan is added to natural gas to make it smell like sulfur or rotten eggs. Ask students why we want natural gas to smell bad. (So we know when it’s leaking and can protect ourselves.) Review with students what they should do if there is a strong gas smell in their house. (Tell an adult. If no adult is home, get everyone out of the house quickly. Do not use a light switch, garage door opener, match, flashlight, or even a phone—a spark could ignite the gas. Go to a safe location to report the leak to your natural gas utility. Do not go back to the house until safety officials say it is okay.)

Natural Gas History

Review the historic milestones in the development of natural gas as a fuel source. Ask students to do some research to find three to five additional gas milestones. As a class, create a timeline showing these milestones.

Natural Gas FAQ

Ask students to brainstorm their own questions about natural gas, and find answers through research. Encourage students to revisit this website, as questions in this section are updated regularly.

Home Safety Inspection

Review the checklist with students in class, and then assign completion of the checklist for homework. Ask students to report back in order to do an in-class graphing activity. On the white board, chart which practices most commonly appear under “Needs Fixing.” Have students postulate why this might be so, and then discuss what they can do about it.

Going Further

Use the following ideas to help your students take their understanding of natural gas safety to the next level:

  • Prepare a three-minute presentation or skit for the class on potential dangers around natural gas and how to remedy them.
  • Prepare a poster showing natural gas leaking out of a pipeline, or leaking from a stove burner at home, and what people should do if they notice this.
  • Create a radio commercial advocating practices of outdoor or indoor natural gas safety.
  • Come up with an interesting question about natural gas that is not answered on this website. Research the answer, and do an in-class presentation on it.
  • Show this website to your parents, and then interview them as to what they learned that they didn’t already know about natural gas and safe practices around it. Report back to the class.

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