Teacher Guide

USA 2011

BIG Energy: A Texas Tale of People Powering Progress
STEM Curriculum to support the BIG Energy Exhibit

Explore the rise and impact of Texas energy through the lens of the people, the city, and a company that call it home, and discover your role in making the future.

Energy plays a critical role in human progress. It keeps people moving and connects us. Energy takes us places and delivers products around the world. It is a key ingredient in countless things that we rely on every day — from the materials our cities are made from, to the clothes on our backs, to the fuels that connect us. To help safeguard the prosperity and well-being of future generations, the world must find ways to produce more and cleaner energy… and use it better.

Oil and natural gas, their production and their products, affect the lives of all Texans. The discovery of oil fields throughout the state in the early 20th century led to the founding and flourishing of numerous Texas towns and to the establishment of companies that would evolve into multinational conglomerates. It was along the Houston Ship Channel, a commercial waterway that would become one of the busiest in the United States, that the town of Deer Park was founded just a few short miles from where Texas had won her independence from Mexico in 1836. Since 1929, the history of Shell Oil and the city of Deer Park have been intertwined. Explore the legacy that manufacturing culture has on the community. Learn more about what goes on at a fully integrated refinery and chemical plant,and discover how progress will power the future.

The lessons on this site follow the flow of the BIG Energy Exhibit and cover the history of energy in the community, refining, and considering energy in the future. You may select individual activities to use based on your students’ experience at the museum, their prior knowledge, or based on the time your unit and standards allow. Download the teacher guide for each activity on this page. Click over to the Student Worksheets tab to download any student worksheets related to each activity. Time will vary based on which activities you choose to complete.

Grade Levels

Depending on your museum experience and student prior knowledge all or some of the activities in this unit may be used and modified to fit your classroom and TEKS applications. Some of the activities, such as Refinery Maze, are more appropriate for upper grades, while Pretzel Power and Carbon in My Life could be used across all grade bands. 

Elementary (grades 4-5)
Intermediate (grades 6-8)
Secondary (grades 9-10)


Three to eight class periods, or more. Time will vary depending on how many activities you choose to do. You may choose which activities will best fit in your time frame and meet the needs of your students.

Teacher Guide Sections

Energy Web Teacher Guide
Peak Oil Game Teacher Guide
Refinery Maze Teacher Guide
Refinery Products Math Teacher Guide
Pretzel Power Teacher Guide
Carbon in My Life Teacher Guide

Explore More

Teachers and parents, discover free STEM group activities & resources to continue the Big Energy experience at: shell.us/BigEnergy