Science Shorts: Learning From the Spillby: Glenda Tombs

Journal ArticleDigital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.

It is hard to imagine anything good coming from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; even suggestions that the public and private sectors will learn and adapt to ensure that nothing like it can happen again are almost as difficult to digest as the massive amount of oil that has now entered our ecosystem. To create a learning opportunity out of this incident, the author initiated some simple experiments and presentations that eventually morphed into a three-week course for grades 4 and 5. Students explored the effects of oil spills and investigated cleanup methods. This lesson has integrated academic disciplines that include math, reading, writing, and social studies.

  • Elementary
Publication Date

Community ActivitySaved in 140 Libraries

Reviews (3)
  • on Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:45 AM

Using a well documents disaster as an engagement piece this teacher created an activity that simulated the oil spill off the Gulf Coast of the USA. Students were able to design their own experiment to contain and remove the oil from the simulated spill. Written in a 5E lesson students acting like an ‘oil-response team’ make a hypothesis as to which method would be best to remove the spill. This real-world related activity concluded with the effects of the spill on organisms in the Gulf. This activity provides a great real-world connection.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Fri Feb 04, 2011 10:54 AM

This is an excellent lesson plan activity that demonstrates how to incorporate the following research findings: #1- Students learn more deeply when they can apply classroom-gathered knowledge to real-world problems, and when they take part in projects that require sustained engagement and collaboration. #2- Active-learning practices have a more significant impact on student performance than any other variable, including student background and prior achievement. Taken from: Powerful Learning: What We Know About Teaching for Understanding, by Linda Darling-Hammond, Brigid Barron, P. David Pearson, Alan H. Schoenfeld, Elizabeth K. Stage, Timothy D. Zimmerman, Gina N. Cervetti, and Jennifer L. Tilson, published in 2008 by Jossey-Bass. In the article, the teacher was able to show her students how academic disciplines such math, reading,writing, and social studies can be used to solve real world problems. This would be a good STEM project for any grade.

Therese H  (Salisbury, MD)
Therese H (Salisbury, MD)

  • on Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:47 AM

Nice job of pointing out the affects of the oil spill on flora fauna, from an immediate affect to a long rang affect. The article point out the affects on chemical, biological, geological, as well as cultural, socail, and econimoc. Unfortunately, the article as I said POINTS OUT thes relationships. A few specific examples should have been give as a background. The activity itself is fairly easy to accomplish, and can be use as a demo, where time for the actual activity may be difficult.

Chester Orban  (Litchfield, NH)
Chester Orban (Litchfield, NH)

Free - NSTA Members

$1.29 - Nonmembers

Login or Create a Free Account to add this resource to your library.