Piedmont Natural Gas and NTC invite you to use these e-learning resources to teach your students about the importance of natural gas conservation and safety. The digital materials below are designed to get your students excited about understanding this important natural resource.

Want to know the best way to use the related videos, games, smart speaker activity and other lessons to educate your class? Watch this short video and learn how to add Adventures of the Blue Flame to your curriculum.


Educational Standards  

We know your class time is extremely valuable. That’s why we ensure that all of our digital e-learning materials are aligned with state and national educational standards. It’s important that the Adventures of the Blue Flame digital program adds to your existing curriculum and keeps students on track with their ongoing learning.

See below for details about how each digital activity aligns with educational standards and corresponds with your state’s curricula.

Educational Standards


Our live in-school theatrical programs are a great way to educate students about a wide variety of important topics. Theater has the ability to capture imaginations and educate at the same time! This 25-minute show features two engaging actors performing a fun story that keeps kids laughing and learning.

Adventures of the Blue Flame teaches viewers about the following educational points:

  • What natural gas is
  • The uses of natural gas
  • How to conserve natural gas
  • How to be safe around natural gas
    • During the show, your students will learn important lessons about natural gas conservation and safety. You can use the lessons and activities on this page to prolong the engagement for months to come.


Your students can enhance what they learn from the program with these fun, hands-on lessons and experiments. These lessons can be done in the classroom or easily adapted for students to do at home with their families.

They’re a fun and educational way for students to learn with family members. The materials needed for these lessons are basic supplies that most people have at home. Follow up with your students to make sure they enjoyed and learned from these activities.

Lesson 1:

Cupcake Drilling

Students will model geologic drilling using layered cupcakes to learn about rocks below the Earth’s surface.

Purpose of Activity
Read or Listen, Identify Details, Apply Skills

21st Century Skills
Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Creativity

Cognitive Level
Strategic Thinking, Extended Thinking, Skills and Concepts

Class Time
60 minutes


  • White cake mix
  • Frosting
  • Food coloring
  • Foil baking cups (must be opaque)
  • Cupcake or muffin pan
  • Plastic cutlery
  • Clear plastic straws
  • Crayons, markers or colored pencils
  • Student sheet


  1. Prepare layered cupcakes prior to beginning the lesson. See baking instructions below.
    • Mix the batter according to cake mix directions. Separate the batter into three bowls and add drops of food coloring to each bowl until desired color is achieved. Line a cupcake pan with foil baking cups. Spoon one tablespoon of each colored batter into the foil cup; order of color does not matter, and layers do not need to be smooth or uniform. Continue adding batter until the foil cup is half full. Bake according to cake mix instructions. Mix green (for grass) or brown (for soil) food coloring into the frosting. Once the cupcakes have baked and cooled, ice the top so that no part of the cupcake is showing
  2. Distribute a cupcake, plastic cutlery, three straws and student sheet to each student. Instruct students to not touch or eat the cupcake until told to do so.
  3. Explain that each cupcake represents a small part of the Earth.
  4. Ask the class what techniques could be used to determine what the cupcake looks like inside. Common answers include:
    • Scrape back the icing. This will show the cupcake’s surface, much like a bulldozer is used to expose rock, but it does not expose rocks at depth.
    • Cut or bite into the cupcake. This would work similar to man-made outcrops (quarries, pits, roadcuts) or natural outcrops (river valleys). Unfortunately, outcrops are scarce, not always located where information is needed and limited in depth below the surface.
    • Use an “X-ray machine.” This is similar to ground-penetrating radar and seismic shockwaves that allow geologists to image the Earth below their feet. However, this approach does not tell geologists what type or age the rocks are, only how they are arranged.
    • Use the straw to drill into the cupcake. The straw can drill into the cupcake to reveal the layers below the surface. Geologists call these samples a core.
  5. Instruct students to use one straw to drill a hole directly into the center of their cupcake. Hold the straw upright and rotate it slowly until it reaches the bottom of the cupcake. Pull the straw out to reveal the colored layers of the core.
  6. Instruct students to draw the colored layers of their core on their tudent sheet.
  7. Using a clean straw, drill a second hole into the cupcake and draw the colored layers of the core on the student sheets. Repeat until all three cupcake cores are drilled and drawn.
  8. With a pencil, the students will connect the similar layers of the three cores to create a cross section of their cupcake. Ask students to make an inference on what the interior of cupcake looks like based on their core observations.
  9. Use the plastic cutlery to cut the cupcake in half. Students should cut through their core holes in a straight line.
  10. Instruct students to draw the cupcake interior once it is cut open. Compare the student’s cross section to the actual cupcake layers.

Critical Thinking Questions

What could you have done to make a more accurate cross section?

  • Used more straws to take more core samples.

Why do geologists study the subsurface?

  • They can discover natural gas deposits, they can study rocks, they can see fossils, etc.

Adapted from: https://dev1.igs.indiana.edu/outreach/CupcakeDrilling.pdf

Lesson 2:

Geo Gelatin

Students will learn how animals and plants are buried in different types of rocks to eventually become fossils.

Purpose of Activity
Read or Listen, Identify Details, Apply Skills

21st Century Skills
Critical Thinking, Collaboration

Cognitive Level
Strategic Thinking, Extended Thinking, Skills and Concepts

Class Time
60 minutes


  • 9 oz. clear plastic cups
  • Red gelatin
  • Yellow gelatin
  • Blue gelatin
  • Gummy worms
  • Gummy dinosaurs
  • Gummy mammals
  • Student sheet


Before the class:

Mix the gelatin according to the rapid gelling instructions on the box. Make sure the solution is cooled to near room temperature. Pour it into several plastic cups, filling 1/4 to 1/3 full. Drop one gummy worm in each cup and refrigerate until the gelatin is set. Prepare the yellow gelatin, again using the rapid gelling method. When it is near room temperature, take a dinosaur and lay it on top of the red layer. Pour yellow gelatin on top, filling 1/4 to 2/3 full. Refrigerate until set. Prepare blue gelatin and cool to room temperature. Drop the mammal on top of the yellow layer and add the blue gelatin to the top of the cups. Chill until set.

  1. Ask students if they know what a fossil is.
  2. Ask students where fossils come from. Once you have established that fossils are found in rocks, tell them they are going to learn about how fossils get into rocks.
  3. Discuss fossilization at an appropriate level for your class. Be sure to point out that it is not actually bone that is found in the fossil, because the bone has been replaced by minerals.
  4. Bring out one of the cups of gelatin. Explain to the students that this is a model of sedimentary rocks that contain fossils. Discuss the Law of Superposition by asking them which layer they think is the oldest and how they know this.
  5. Explain to the students that it is their job to figure out the name of each layer and the name of the fossils in each layer. Tell them that the class will go over how to determine the era and period name for the fossil after we have determined what fossils they are.
  6. Pass out the student sheet and read it over. Ask if there are any questions about the activity. Remind students not to eat the gelatin!
  7. Have the students break into groups and get their supplies.
  8. Walk around the class and make sure students are on task. Once most are done identifying the rock layers, gather everyone’s attention.
  9. Ask the students to name one of the fossils, using the chart in the student sheet to determine the time-range in which the fossil existed. Then look up the time-range on the geologic time scale to determine the era and period for each fossil.
  10. Have the students do this for the rest of the fossils.
  11. Wrap up the activity. Review what they have learned if time allows.

Critical Thinking Questions

Why might some layers in the cup be thicker than others?

  • This could represent the length of time that the geologic period lasted. If the layer is thinner, the period lasted less time – if it is thicker, it lasted longer.

Do you think the bottom layer of the cup represents a time that is older or younger than the ones on top?

  • The bottom layer represents the oldest layer. The other layers came after and buried the oldest layer deep underground.

Adapted from: https://igws.indiana.edu/outreach/additional/activities/Geo-Gelatin.pdf

Lesson 3:

Energy Use Video


Students will write, direct and produce a video using persuasive communication skills to illustrate natural resource conservation. For this first activity, you will need access to videos of a variety of television commercials. Use recent and popular commercials with appropriate content. Ten to 20 commercials would provide excellent material for discussion in the first activity.

Purpose of Activity

Read or Listen, Apply Skills, Create

21st Century Skills

Critical Thinking and Creativity

Cognitive Level

Strategic and Extended Thinking

Class Time

2-3 days

  • Paper for storyboarding
  • Video recorder
  • Editing software

Begin by showing the commercials. Ask the class to create a list of the products advertised in the commercials. Then ask students to determine which commercials they liked best and why.

Introduce persuasive techniques at this time. You may wish to include some or all of the following ideas:


Authority: A famous person or someone who has authority in our society pushes a particular product. Examples include commercials featuring a doctor or a professional sports figure.

Side-tracking: Discusses a subject that seems to be related, but is not. Examples include a basketball player trying to sell hamburgers.

Bandwagon: “Everyone is doing it and you should too.” This approach appeals to feelings of belonging. An example includes everybody going to see the latest movie and raving about it.

Slanted language: Uses words packed with emotion to make people feel a certain way. Examples of positive slanted language include the use of words like smooth, fresh and clear. Negative slanted words might include bumpy, overdue, crowded and noisy.

Show the commercials a second time, looking for persuasive techniques. Inform students that they are going to create a commercial on the topic of natural resource conservation. The commercial should be designed to persuade homeowners that they should use energy more efficiently. Emphasize that one or more of these persuasive techniques must be used.

Before students choose the style of their commercial, it may be advisable for them to break into smaller groups and choose energy-saving topics. Student groups may choose from a list of the following:

  • Energy-efficient showerheads
  • Using the clothesline to dry laundry
  • Insulating electrical outlets
  • Efficient use of the dishwasher
  • Faucet aerators
  • Sealing up leaks in doors
  • Sealing up leaks in windows and outlets
  • Turning down the water heater temperature
  • Adjusting programmable thermostats to save on heating or cooling

The commercial should contain explanations of procedures involved in making specific changes. Creativity is encouraged, including the use of music, props, etc.

The important steps in commercial production are summarized below.

  1. What’s your idea?
    • Audience: Who is your audience?
    • Length: How long will your video be? The commercial should be no more than two minutes long.
    • Style What do you want your video to look like? (Example: humorous, musical, informative)
  2. Write a script
    • Who are the characters?
    • What are they doing?
    • What are they saying?
  3. Construct a storyboard
    • Roughly draw a series of “shots” that will communicate your ideas.
    • Who is in the shot?
    • Is it a long shot (far away), medium shot or close up?
    • What action is happening in the shot?
    • What dialogue is being spoken?
  4. Assign all jobs
    • Costume design
    • Prop assembly
    • Make-up artist
    • Graphic artist
    • Location scout
    • Lighting director
    • Camera person
    • Director
    • Actors
    • Others
  5. Rehearse
    • How many times have you rehearsed?
  6. Record the video.
    • Lighting: Did you use as much light as possible indoors? Did you avoid windows? Was the sun behind you outdoors?
    • Audio: Did you eliminate all background noise?

Was your commercial successful? Why or why not?

  • Answers will vary

Name some persuasion techniques in other forms of advertisements like radio or print ads.

  • Authoritative and bombastic voices, images of beauty and popularity, images of fun, etc.


Follow-up, formative assessments for you to gauge the learning of your students are especially important with e-learning. Below are some suggestions for how you can assess your students’ performance quickly and effectively.

These assessments are easy for you and your students to complete and help ensure your class is getting the maximum educational value, retention and engagement from the related digital activities.

Elementary Educational Assessments
Hands-on lessons
Digital games
Graphic novel
Interactive activities
PDFs & Print materials
Ask students to reflect on the topic and draw their thoughts on paper
Write one or two sentences identifying the main point
One-question quiz    
Journal reflection
Have students discuss three things they learned, two things they still want to learn, and one question they still have
Hand in completed activity  
Submit screenshot of completed activity    


Adventures of the Blue Flame student activities page features games, videos, e-books, educational lessons, downloadable PDFs, a smart speaker app and more. Access in the classroom or at home to learn more about natural gas and have fun exploring Adventures of the Blue Flame!

Access Student Activities

Student Playbook

This downloadable PDF features colorful artwork, entertaining games and activities, and expanded information to complete your understanding of energy conservation and natural gas safety. Read on your own, with your class, or with friends and family and get to know the characters of Adventures of the Blue Flame.

Explore the Student Playbook


Dive into this colorful, illustrated e-book in the classroom or at home with friends and family. Students can read to themselves or with others, and younger students can use the read-along option.

Access the E-book

Graphic Novel

Flip through this colorful graphic novel for a new and engaging story. With fun artwork, entertaining characters and expanded information, The Blue Flame graphic novel offers a page-turning experience.

Access the Graphic Novel


We take your feedback and suggestions very seriously. Hearing from educators with firsthand experience with our programs ensures that we continue to improve our digital resources, making them as beneficial as possible for you and your students.

Please complete this brief, two-minute evaluation to let us know what you thought. Enter the code you received on the Teacher Instruction Card or call us for your access code.

Thank you for your time and valuable input.

Live In-person Show Code: PiedmontF22E
Livestream Show Code: PiedmontSY22E


You’ve covered the basics of natural gas conservation and safety. If you really want to dig deep with your class, explore the expanded information and additional resources below.

These materials provide even more insight into the history, science, usage and importance of natural gas. There are also helpful links and tips for conservation and safety in your community.

Expanded Information 1:

Have you ever noticed that natural gas smells like rotten eggs? The rotten egg smell that you sense is actually added to the natural gas. Normally, natural gas is odorless and colorless; you can’t see it and you can’t smell it. The added smell is a compound called mercaptan and it smells like rotten eggs!

If too much natural gas leaks, it can build up and eventually catch fire or cause an explosion. Scientists and utility companies add the rotten egg smell so you know when it is leaking. If you smell that rotten egg smell in your house, GET OUT right away. Don’t call anyone or turn on or off any lights or appliances. Any spark from an electrical appliance or smartphone could cause the natural gas to explode. The best thing to do is to GET OUT, then tell an adult or call the fire department. They can clear the area and make sure everyone is safe as the problem is dealt with.

Expanded Information 2:

The United States uses and produces many different types and sources of energy, which can be grouped into general categories such as primary and secondary, renewable and nonrenewable, and fossil fuels.

Primary energy sources include fossil fuels (petroleum, natural gas, and coal), nuclear energy, and renewable sources of energy. Electricity is a secondary energy source that is generated (produced) from primary energy sources.

Energy sources are measured in different physical units: liquid fuels in barrels or gallons, natural gas in cubic feet, coal in short tons, and electricity in kilowatts and kilowatt-hours. In the United States, British thermal units (Btu), a measure of heat energy, is commonly used for comparing different types of energy to each other. In 2019, total U.S. primary energy consumption was equal to about 100,165,395,000,000,000 Btu, or about 100.2 quadrillion Btu.

Source: https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/us-energy-facts/

Expanded Information 3:


Landfills can be a source of energy. Anaerobic bacteria that live in landfills decompose organic waste to produce a gas called biogas that contains methane.

Methane is the same energy-rich gas that is in natural gas, which is the fuel used for heating, cooking and producing electricity. Methane is colorless and odorless, and a very strong greenhouse gas. Natural gas utilities add an odorant (bad smell) so people can detect natural gas leaks from pipelines. Landfill biogas can also be dangerous to people or the environment. New rules require landfills to collect methane gas for safety and pollution control.

Some landfills simply burn the methane gas in a controlled way to get rid of it. But the methane can also be used as an energy source. Landfills can collect the methane gas, treat it and then sell it as a commercial fuel. It can then be burned to generate steam and electricity.

Landfill Gas Energy Projects

As of October 2011, 526 landfills have 563 operating gas-to-energy projects in the United States. California has the most landfill gas energy projects in operation (76), followed by Pennsylvania (39) and Michigan (36).

Source: https://zooidaho.org/documents/alternative-energy/EIA%20Biomass%20Energy.pdf

Natural gas,
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