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Oil Spills

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National Geographic Lesson Plans: Liquid Density and Oil Spills
Students are probably aware that oil and water form separate layers when mixed together, but they may not have thought of this fact in terms of density. They will conduct a simple experiment demonstrating the variable densities of corn syrup, water, glycerin, and vegetable oil. Students will then transfer this concept to an examination of cleanup methods used in the Exxon Valdez oil spill. They will conclude by writing paragraphs hypothesizing what would happen during an oil spill if oil and water were the same density and therefore mixed together easily.
Grade Level: Middle school

National Geographic Lesson Plans: Bird Baths: Cleaning Up Wildlife After Oil Spills
In this lesson, students explore the causes and effects of events such as oil spills and contaminations. They will then experience first-hand the feel of oil spills, determine an environmental problem that affects their community, and develop an "action plan" to minimize the risk to one form of wildlife. Finally, they will examine ways in which public and private organizations partner to keep the environment, and its wildlife, healthy.
Grade Level: Intermediate elementary

CENCOOS Oil Spill Lesson Plan
This lesson plan, developed for the MBARI EARTH Workshop, uses ocean observing data to predict the movement and eventual location of a hypothetical off-shore oil spill of the coast of California.
Grade Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division

California Coastal Commission: Oil Spills
A comprehensive look back at the 2007 San Francisco Bay 58,000 gallon oil spill. Information includes why the oil moved through the Bay the way it did, the effects of the spill, and how it could have been prevented. The site also includes tips for improving the Bay health beyond major oil spills.
Grade Level:

Oil Spill Activities
The Gulf of Maine Aquarium has prepared three classroom activities and lessons on oil spills: Save the Bay, Oil Consumption, and How Big Is an Oil Tanker. Discover the effects of storms and wind on an oil spill, find out how much oil your family uses, and get a sense of just how big an oil tanker is. Site links to other Aquarium modules.
Grade Level: Intermediate elementary, Middle school, High school

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Restoration Web Site
Contains information on the spill and its cleanup, injured resources, habitat protection, ongoing activities and more. Features include a section specifically designed for students who are doing a project on the spill, a comprehensive list of downloadable publications, and links to other related sites. Other information available includes: upcoming events, the GEM Program, a long-term monitoring program, and maps and photos of the spill and its aftermath.
Grade Level: Middle school, High school

Ocean Planet: Pollution Solution
Unit from Smithsonian multidisciplinary ocean curriculum. Focuses on sources of oil pollution and effects on ocean, marine life and humans. Students predict impacts of an oil spill and plan actions needed to protect and restore habitat and wildlife. Lab activities demonstrate properties of oil. Unit includes: background, instructions for the teacher, forms for student activities, discussion questions; all available online in PDF format. Resources include online version of the Ocean Planet exhibition.
Grade Level: Intermediate elementary, Middle school, High school

Human Impact
Collection of nine classroom activities that focus on human impact on the environment. Topics include: oil spills; oil consumption; oil tanker size; greenhouse effect; salt water incursion; ozone hole and its affect on the food web; and zebra mussels. Each activity provides list of materials needed, background information, and procedure.
Grade Level: Intermediate elementary, Middle school, High school

National Ocean Service
NOS measures and predicts coastal and ocean phenomena, protects large areas of the oceans, and works to ensure safe navigation. Educator information includes Discovery Kits, which consist of 4 different classroom units on corals, estuaries, geodesy, and tides and water levels, Discovery Stories, 2 case studies concerning the Exxon Valdez incident and the lionfish invasion occurring along the U.S. Atlantic coast, and Discovery Classroom, which consists of 11 different lesson plans.
Grade Level: High school, Graduate or professional


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