Watt Watchers of Texas: Texas is Too Good To Waste™

Activity: Investigate: Energy in Texas

Activity Overview: There's no doubt that oil and gas have had an unmistakable impact on Texas. It is a major industry employing hundreds of thousands of people today, but in the grand scheme of the history of Texas and North America, oil and gas is still an emerging industry.

Time: This activity is appropriate for project-based learning. As defined by the Buck Institute for Education, project-based learning (PBL) invites students to “work on a project over an extended period of time – from a week up to a semester – that engages them in solving a real-world problem or answering a complex question. They demonstrate their knowledge and skills by developing a public product or presentation for a real audience.” You could consider scheduling this activity at the beginning of a unit on energy, the environment, or engineering to challenge students to start thinking about different interdisciplinary issues. Alternatively, you could schedule this project as a “final examination” to assess students’ grasp of the material and engagement with the interdisciplinary process. For a different approach, consider scheduling a semester- or year-long project, with routine iterations and presentations. Students’ ideas and engineering designs will improve over the scheduled time as they learn more about the concepts and processes involved.


For this project, students can work individually or in groups. Allow students to select a topic (or assign students a topic) to investigate relating to the development of the oil and gas industry in Texas. Topics can be historical or contemporary, but should exhibit multi-disciplinary intersection with the development of Texas.

You may want to consider booking class time in the library or computer lab for students to research their topics and to compile their research. You could also speak with your librarian or research specialist about a discussion regarding how to find and assess resources relevant to this project as part of a media literacy lesson.

Project Statement:

Trace the development of major sectors that contributed to the development of Texas. Analyze the effects of scientific development and the impact of significant industries if applicable.

Relevant sectors include but are not limited to transportation, oil and gas, manufacturing, agricultural, renewable energy, medical, computer, and aerospace.


Evaluate students’ projects according to the following criteria. Excellent project performance for each phase is defined below.

Define a Relevant Sector: Student fully understands the project statement and identifies a sector with a meaningful impact to the development of Texas

Do Background Research: Student identifies a succinct list of reputable sources that document the background and context of their identified sector and produces a well composed summary of the sector with few to zero errors in grammar, spelling, or citations.

Create a Visual: Student creates at least one thematic map, graph, chart, model, or database pertaining to the sector that helps explain at least one point the student is trying to explain in the investigation.


SS.7.20A, SS.7.20C SS.7.13C, SS.7.20D, SS.7.21A, SS.7.8A

Watt Watchers of Texas is a Partner Program of Smart Energy Education.
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