Pig in a pipeline

What’s a pig doing in a pipe? Well, in order to keep oil and natural gas flowing, pipelines must be maintained and working correctly. When they need cleaning or observation, a ‘pig’ goes through the line to remove debris or give a video inspection. Teresa Reynolds’ 5th grade science class at River Elementary School learned about pipeline pigging as part of their energy and friction study.

Reynolds’ students first modified the activity by using pipe insulation and a marble. She said, “As we worked to create the pipeline that could be cleaned with our ‘pig’, we found that we needed to increase the height that we dropped the ‘pig’ from, so it would have enough energy.”

Later, the class used PVC pipe and ping pong balls, as Reynolds had worked with at the OOGEEP education workshop. Reynolds said, “To help make the “pigging” more relevant to the material we we currently covering, we inserted about three grams of water into one of the ping pong balls and compared the results from those trials. It took a few trials but a connection to mass and speed was reached.”

Reynolds said the students enjoyed the activity, and it proved “well worth the class time required to complete.”

Learn about this great activity and more in OOGEEP’s summer education workshops!