As a part of the Ecology unit in Science class, third grade students are learning about environmental disasters. Some types of disasters they are learning about are oil spill disasters. 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 STEM Lab this afternoon, third grade students were challenged to an oil spill clean-up! 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, and other plastic creatures to represent marine life. This experience gave students a deep understanding of the devastation that oil spills wreak upon the animal and plant life in the areas where they occur.