Lesson Plan Overview

Oil Crisis:
Get Into The Game

How Bad Can It Get?

Life Is Starting To Change

Elasticity and Collapse

Oil Dependency
Among Nations

Food Without Oil


Preparation and Community

Lessons Learned

Your World Without Oil



The oil shortage has caused episodes of disorder and violence throughout the United States, and local, state, and federal government are reacting in controversial ways. At the local level, some police and fire departments have been unable to respond to all calls, resulting in the creation of unofficial Red (dangerous) and Green (safe) Zones in most cities. Outside the cities, the federal government has established refugee camps for those forced to leave their homes because of violence or lack of food. It has been reported that some of these camps have been converted to agriculture work camps to help offset the food shortages. Few official reports address the true nature of these camps.

Lesson Objectives
Students will:

Before the Lesson

Part 1: Set the Stage
Student Page for this lesson is here:
This page summarizes ideas and instructions for students.

Part 2: Take Action
  1. Discuss with the students the basic nature of the role of government especially in the United States. You can use the WWO crisis to focus students on the basic protections a government should afford. Remind them of what's stated in the Declaration of Independence: all people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
  2. Have the student groups review the following posts and create a list of what the government should be doing during crisis for the citizens of the United States.
  3. Create a class list of the items and try to determine what level of government (local, state, and federal) holds the responsibility. Ask students: "at what point do state and federal governments involve themselves with local problems? At what point should they?"

Part 3: Lesson Activity
  1. Ask student groups to outline measures the different levels of government could take to limit the problems currently hppening in a World Without Oil.
  2. Next, have students review the following articles about Hurricane Katrina (2005) and the San Diego wild fires (2007). In groups, have students make a general comparison of the government reactions. How did the local, state, and federal governments fail in New Orleans and succeed in San Diego? What factors contributed to these outcomes? Could socioeconomics be involved?
  3. Bring the class back together and discuss the importance of having a governmental plan to deal with emergency situations. On the board or projector, create three columns. Label the columns preparation, reaction, and recovery. As a class, determine specific actions the government should take in each of those categories. Also determine which level of government (local, state, or federal) holds responsibility and what should be done if the accountable party fails its duty.
Part 4: Reflect
Students should now consider the large-scale problems that could erupt in the community and environment around them. Preexisting tensions, severe economic disparities, and available local resources could all factor into the situation that students are facing in their local communities. Use the following questions to help guide their reflections:

Part 5: Take It Further
Distribute this to your students:

As the situation gets tense, we have to find ways to cope – and not only physically, but emotionally as well. One way to lessen fear, especially of the unknown, is to play with it, because play creates a non-threatening space where we can think about problems and even try out solutions.

To take it further today, come up with some games to play that help the players think about and adapt to the oil crisis. The games can be for children if you want, because they are looking for ways to fight fear as much as anyone.

For inspiration, read Avantgame's defense of play even during crisis:

And look at Defend the Farm or Steal the Crops:

Don't forget to document your game ideas in your blog!

Additional Resources

Independent Lens Electric Shadows Independent Television Service Corporation for Public Broadcasting Ken Eklund, Writerguy
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National Standards (McREL)

Overarching (All Lessons)

Standard 44.
Understands the search for community, stability, and peace in an interdependent world

Level IV (Grades 9-12), Benchmark 2:
Understands rates of economic development and the emergence of different economic systems around the globe (e.g., systems of economic management in communist and capitalist countries, as well as the global impact of multinational corporations; the impact of black markets, speculation, and trade in illegal products on national and global markets; patterns of inward, outward, and internal migration in the Middle East and North Africa, types of jobs involved, and the impact of the patterns upon national economies; the rapid economic development of East Asian countries in the late 20th century, and the relatively slow development of Sub-Saharan African countries)


Lesson 7: Specific Standards


Standard 23: Understands the impact of significant political and nonpolitical developments on the United States and other nations

Level IV, Benchmark 5: Understands historical and contemporary responses of the American government to demographic and environmental changes that affect the United States


Standard 6: Understands the roles government plays in the United States economy

Benchmark  7: Understands that few incentives exist for political leaders to implement policies that entail immediate costs and deferred benefits, even though these types of programs may be more economically effective


State Standards (All Lessons)