• Views 158
  • Favorites
Photo via Pexels


MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences, English Language Arts

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans
  • Podcasts, 10 minutes, 24 seconds
  • Articles and Websites
  • Worksheets
  • Activity - Classroom

Regional Focus

North America, United States



Fossil Fuels and Climate Change

Ask a Question

  • This lesson and accompanying podcast teaches students about fossil fuels, where they come from, how they are used, and the consequences of their extraction and use. 
  • Students will be introduced to renewable and non-renewable energy sources and will understand the relationship between climate change and non-renewable energy sources. 
Teaching Tips


  • The educator guide is downloadable and includes standards, lesson objectives, an answer key, a table of contents, and other helpful resources for teachers to successfully deliver the lesson.
  • The podcast, featuring Dr. John Reilly of MIT Sloan School of Management, is engaging, informative, and accessible.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The full educator guide includes teacher pages and student pages, but there is an option to download a PDF version of the student pages and teacher pages separately.
  • There is also a guide for teachers who need support with how to use all TILclimate Educator Guides.


  • ELA classes can use this resource as a guide to conduct a research paper on energy sources, fossil fuel consumption, and the consequences of our current fossil fuel dependency.
  • Civics classes can discuss policy proposals to reduce our use of fossil fuels, their potential effectiveness, the likelihood of implementation, and obstacles to passing them.
  • Other resources related to these topics include this lesson about carbon pricing to reduce emissions, this interactive data set about global fossil fuel consumption, and this video with accompanying materials about the carbon cycle and formation of fossil fuels.
Scientist Notes
This resource includes a podcast in which an MIT expert is interviewed and discusses the history of human use of fossil fuels including coal, oil, and natural gas. Energy transitions between coal to oil and, more recently, natural gas via hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") are also discussed. A transcript and educator's guide, along with additional resource links, are provided. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-3 Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • HS-ETS1-1 Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Writing: History, Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.9-10.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
  • Common Core Math Standards (CCSS.MATH)
    • Number & Quantity: Quantities (9-12)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSN.Q.A.3 Choose a level of accuracy appropriate to limitations on measurement when reporting quantities.
  • Related Resources


    Login to leave a review