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Presenting the Story of the Oil Boom
Researching Various Aspects of the Oil & Gas Industries to
Understand Its Effect on Our Western Lifestyle
Students need to understand the role the oil and gas industries
played in creating the Alberta identity and appreciate how Alberta
has grown and changed culturally, economically and socially since
the 1920s. Our western heritage is still a very important part of
our culture and has been affected by the oil industry. Why does
Alberta's economic fortunes depend so heavily on oil revenues? What
was it like to work in the early oil industry? How would life be
different in Alberta without these resources? How can we use primary
resources like photographs to learn more about what the oil boom
In this project, students will develop an appreciation of the stories
and lifestyle of the oilmen and women who began the Alberta oil
industry from the 1920's onward. Students will undertake research
in order to get a good picture of what the industry was like back
then. They will use the research to create a PowerPoint presentation
focusing on an aspect of the oil and gas industry. Using the Mavericks:
An Incorrigible History of Alberta and ImagesCanada.ca
websites, they will search for and find primary photographs to assist
and represent aspects of the presentation.
Alberta Social Studies Curriculum Unit Connections
Grade Four - Alberta: The Land, Histories and Stories
4.1 Alberta: A Sense of the Land
4.2 The Stories, Histories and People of Alberta
4.3 Alberta: Celebrations and Challenges
Grade Five - Canada: The Land, Histories and Stories
5.1 Physical Geography of Canada
5.2 Histories and Stories of Ways of Life in Canada
5.3 Canada: Shaping an Identify
Grade Six - Democracy: Action and Participation
6.1 Citizens Participating in Decision Making
Materials and Resources Needed
Students will conduct research for and create a historical fiction
story about a real or imaginary character that was involved with
the oil and gas industry in Alberta. The project could be introduced
by the teacher through orally telling a part of the story of the
oil boom or of an "oil well shooter" like Charles Stalnaker.
These stories may be found on the Mavericks: An Incorrigible
History of Alberta site in those characters' biographies.
Each student (or small group) will begin to research about one
area of the oil & gas industry. In the end, they will share
their results with the others in the class, allowing each student
to get a good picture of what the industry was like. Possible topics
- What is oil and natural gas? How was it formed?
- How do people find oil?
- How do people drill for oil?
- How is oil refined (turned into usable products like gasoline)?
- How is oil transported?
- What is the impact of the oil and gas industry on the land and
it's other natural resources (e.g. rivers, lakes, animals, birds,
- Are we running out of oil? What then?
Once a topic is chosen, students will use the Oil & Gas web
resources above, the Mavericks: An Incorrigible History of Alberta
and the ImagesCanada.ca websites. They will search for information,
primary artifacts and photographs to assist and represent aspects
of their topic. When one of the Mavericks is connected to the research
topic, they should be incorporated into the presentation, showing
how the topic is connected to real people.
Some tips on using the Images Canada web site:
- Just the name can be used in a single search. Searching "peter
lougheed" yields 119 photos and "herron" yields
- Click on "more information" under each picture to
find other subject terms to use in searching. For example, you
can use "dwelling" or "houses" instead of
- Photos may be copied into another program like Word and then
enlarged or printed in a landscape format if needed.
All images can be reproduced, in print and/or digital format,
for non-commercial, educational purposes. The images must
not be altered or manipulated in any way and proper credit must
accompany the images. See link below for more information.
Once each student has written up their research findings in their
own words, it may be copied and pasted into a PowerPoint presentation.
Students should have all information written before adding graphics
and photographs or playing with the layout. The presentation should
be practiced before being presented to the large group.
Assessment and Evaluation
- Students and their teacher should develop their own rubric by
identifying evaluation criteria for the project that will match
their own learner outcomes. This allows students to understand
the expectations for their work and to have input into the ongoing
- Individually or in small groups, students might evaluate the
work of two or three other students in order to gain insight into
how their peers approached the project.
- After completing the project, students may talk or journal about
what they felt they did very positively, what they had difficulty
with, and how they would change how they would approach a similar
project in the future.
- The final student presentations may be videotaped in order to
be shared, re-examined, and evaluated. These may also be shared
or evaluated along with their parents or be presented at student-led
Ideas for Enriching this Project
- Students could undertake the project in the Oil & Gas project
#3 - Saving the Environment One Maverick at a Time… Examining
Oil's Impact on the Environment and Taking Action for Conservation
- Students could compare how the early oil & gas industry
worked and compare it to how the modern oil & gas industry.
- Students could take on the personality and clothing of one of
the Maverick characters when they present or share their stories.
(See also the "Becoming a Western Legend" student activity)
- Students could create a web site for the class projects. This
may provide a "real" audience to share their stories
and research with.
- Students could use the real photographs from ImagesCanada.ca
to draw mechanical reproductions of their own. They could use
charcoal or pencil to achieve the black and white style, or redraw
the photo in colour.
- Students could print a photo in black and white and then use
watercolour paints to add colour. They may "colourize"
the whole photograph or only touch up small sections or parts
for emphasis. An example is the little girl's pink coat in the
black and white movie Schindler's List.