Oil Spill at the Creek! Third and Fifth Grade STEM Students Reenact Environmental Disaster

As a part of a project-based learning experience for our third and fifth graders, students have learned about the devastation effects of environmental disasters. One type of disaster they are currently learning about are oil spills. Oil spills penetrate into the anatomy of birds and the fur of mammals, reducing their insulating ability, and making them more vulnerable to temperature fluctuations while in the water. Cleanup and recovery from an oil spill is difficult and depends upon many factors, including the type of oil spilled, the temperature of the water, and the types of shorelines and beaches involved.

During this week's STEM Lab, students were challenged to an oil spill clean-up! Third and fifth grade students worked in teams to clean up "oil" from a simulated oil spill disaster (using vegetable oil, cocoa powder and Dawn dish soap) that included fake birds, feathers, snakes, turtles, and other plastic creatures to represent marine life. This activity gave the students the opportunity to observe how difficult these disasters are to resolve, and reinforced the importance of doing their part to be positive, active environmental stewards.