This Full-Scale Informal Science Education award focuses on the physical and social science surrounding the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus shale formation beneath the surface in north central and western Pennsylvania. The project targets the adult residents of the impacted or soon-to-be-impacted areas of Pennsylvania. This is a complex project involving the disciplines of geology, engineering, chemistry, social science, performance, and land management. Further, the project team includes a mix of physical scientists, educators, theater arts faculty, social scientists and engineers from Pennsylvania State University, the Pennsylvania State Cooperative Extension Service, and Juniata College.
The project addresses several potential barriers to communication of science to the public. The proposal team provides four entry points for citizens of rural Pennsylvania to engage in learning about energy, its needs in the Nation, the economics behind these needs, the geology of the shale deposit and how to have productive discussions and make decisions using science-based evidence. The project will engage a multitude of communication mechanisms such as forums, community meetings, theater performances, data centers, blogs and workshops. The Pennsylvania State Extension will play a central role in working at the local level.
The project is a complex effort wherein the residents of north central and western Pennsylvania will learn about the science and policies of natural gas extraction and how to derive and use scientific information for decision making. The proposal team will learn how to work and communicate with rural citizens. Further, the team will derive a variety of models from these activities that are likely to be adaptable for use in other areas of the Nation that have natural gas deposits.