S&S Activity 5.5 Tab 1


  1. Explain how matter and energy change when a fossil fuel like natural gas undergoes combustion.
  2. Describe the role of combustion of natural gas and other fossil fuels in the home or school.
  3. Describe the role of combustion in electricity production in the state.
  4. Associate the release of carbon dioxide from combustion of fossil fuels with climate change.

NGSS Performance Expectations

Middle School

  • Structures and Properties of Matter. MS-PS1-1. Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.
  • Chemical Reactions. MS-PS1-2. Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.
  • Chemical Reactions. MS-PS1-5. Develop and use a model to describe how the total number of atoms does not change in a chemical reaction and thus mass is conserved.

High School

  • Chemical Reactions. HS-PS1-4. Develop a model to illustrate that the release or absorption of energy from a chemical reaction system depends upon the changes in total bond energy.
  • Chemical Reactions. HS-PS1-7. Use mathematical representations to support the claim that atoms, and therefore mass, are conserved during a chemical reaction.

Background Information

The goal of this lesson is for students to connect what they learned in the Systems and Scale Unit to their own community. To accomplish this, students apply what they know about how matter and energy change during the combustion of ethanol to explain why combustion of natural gas (methane) and other fossil fuels is an energy source that can be used to heat buildings, water, and food. They use local information to determine how natural gas is used in their home or school. In addition, they use government information to determine how combustion is used in their state to produce electricity. They combine and connect this information into an infographic that explains that combustion of fossil fuels like natural gas is widely used to fuel our lifestyle because of the heat it produces. But it also has consequences including CO2 production that contributes to climate change

Key carbon-transforming processes: Combustion