Teach PA History
Explore PA History
Related Stories
Oil: Impact of a Resource
What to Know
Teaching Time
two 45-minute periods
Grade Level
Middle School
  • Geography
  • History
Historical Period
  • Development of the Industrial Pennsylvania - 1877-1900
  • The Emergence of Modern Pennsylvania - 1901-1928
Probably no other natural resource has had the impact on both American society and the modern world as did the discovery of how to extract and refine petroleum. The story of this process, which shaped our modern world, begins in Pennsylvania, in Venango County at Drake's Well. This lesson explores the early development of the oil industry.


Students will: 1. Identify where the early oil production was in the state. 2. Identify products derived from natural resources. Compare and contrast the benefits and banes derived from production of oil and other natural resource. 3. Assemble a description of the whole refining process and write a summary paragraph of how the overall oil production and distribution has changed. 4.Recognize the importance of and understand challenges associated with turning a natural resource into a usable product.

Standards Alignment

  • Environment and Ecology

    4.2.4 B. Identify products derived from natural resources.
    4.2.10. C. Analyze how man-made systems have impacted the management and distribution of natural resources.
    4.3.7. B. Describe how human actions affect the health of the environment.
    4.8.7. C. Explain how human activities may affect local, regional and national environments.

  • Geography

    7.2.3. A. Identify the physical characteristics of places and regions.

  • History

    8.1.3 B. Develop an understanding of historical sources.
    8.1.6. A. Understand chronological thinking and distinguish between past, present, and future time.
    8.2.3. B. Identify and describe primary documents, material artifacts and historic sites important in Pennsylvania history.

Back to Top