Pennsylvania State University has launched a website called Marcellus by Design aimed at helping residents in rural communities learn more about the shale gas drilling that surrounds them and work in related industries.
Penn State researchers plan to take the new technology on the road this summer to rural communities across the state as part of "Marcellus Matters: Engaging Adults in Science and Energy," a larger project to boost scientific literacy among adults.
"Our whole project is geared toward giving community members the knowledge they need to understand they can have impacts within their communities as far as development issues," said Terry Noll, project coordinator and a researcher in Penn State's Earth and Environmental Systems Institute.
Noll and her team have traveled the state hosting discussions, lessons and industry field trips since Marcellus Matters started in 2012 with a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
The university has played an instrumental role in educating the public since Marcellus Shale development began more than 10 years ago. In addition to Marcellus Matters, the school established the Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research, an education and research initiative on unconventional shale gas plays, its faculty and students have conducted separate research and served as key sources for the news media, among other things.
While shale development stretches across the state from northeast to central and from northwest to southwest Pennsylvania, a study released in late 2014 by the General Assembly's Center for Rural Pennsylvania found that 90% of all shale wells drilled in the state through June 13 were concentrated in mostly rural communities in just seven counties (see Shale Daily,Oct. 14, 2015).
The website,sites.psu.edu/marcellusbydesign, includes interactive games, a history of energy industries in the state and interviews with a variety of stakeholders in natural gas development, such as exploration and production employees, environmental advocates and county officials.