TeachersFirst's Oil Spill Resources

This collection of reviewed resources from TeachersFirst is selected to help teachers and students learn about oil spills and the short and long term impact on the environment caused by these environmental disasters. As students read and see images of  animals, be aware that younger students may have more questions than they can explain. Use these resources together with your class to help them find ways they can contribute to a greater good after such a devastating event spreads across the news. View our full listing of resources tagged oil and oil spills.

Extend the opportunity to teach about persuasive writing (letters to legislators or the editor), careers in environmental science, and more.

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Scientific American: Slide Shows - Scientific American, A division of Nature America, Inc.

Grades
6 to 12
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The slide show portion of the Scientific American website is a great visual resource for science teachers. The shows are organized in chronological order from most recent to the oldest....more
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The slide show portion of the Scientific American website is a great visual resource for science teachers. The shows are organized in chronological order from most recent to the oldest. The page is not searchable, but the site is. This would be great for science current events to tie into class. Some slide shows are graphic (a removed human brain!) and may need disclaimers when being shared with students. Create an account to view the slide shows.

tag(s): human body (90), microorganisms (10), oil (25), oil spill (14), organisms (16), slides (40), space (206)

In the Classroom

Try using this site when discussing how science relates to our current world. For instance, show the ten most dangerous moments for the space shuttle and the station history when studying astronomy. Incorporate the slide show about the Gulf oil spill and reading into a class blog for a biology unit on bacteria. This slide show demonstrates how microbes are used to clean up the oil. The pictures of the organisms are wonderful! Or, incorporate it into an environmental science class dealing with the impact of human behavior on the environment. Have students read and view the slide show as homework, and then discuss what they have learned via your class wiki or in class. Enhance learning by challenging students to create online posters or do it together as a class using a tool such as Web Poster Wizard, reviewed here, or PicLits, reviewed here. Have students further discuss the potential problems with associated new microbes into the oil spill area.

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Layers of Life - Gulf Life Interactive - National Geographic

Grades
6 to 9
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The "Layers of Life" interactive from the fantastic folks at National Geographic offers a detailed, informative infographic of the Gulf of Mexico's ecosystems, the organisms that thrive...more
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The "Layers of Life" interactive from the fantastic folks at National Geographic offers a detailed, informative infographic of the Gulf of Mexico's ecosystems, the organisms that thrive there, and the conditions that need to be maintained for the health of this environment. This interactive has two layers of information that can be clicked through easily. The download arrow, on the upper right of the infographic, significantly increases the size of the image to read about the different zones of the ecosystem with ease.

tag(s): biomes (113), diversity (33), environment (221), oil (25), oil spill (14), water (94)

In the Classroom

To teach about the zones of the ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico, have students form four groups and create a summary of the features and creatures of that zone. This will reduce the time necessary to share all of the information in class. Turn the activity into a jigsaw by having the student teams number themselves and form new groups of numbers so that all information is shared to all students. While students are sharing information, post questions about the oil spill impact on the ecosystem. Examples would be "Why would oil being introduced into this unique zone of the ecosystem cause a problem for organisms that live in this area?" or "How could the oil from the spill cause a chain reaction for biotic and abiotic components of the environment?" Encourage students to discuss within their groups the questions and then have discussion with the whole class where the groups share ideas. Enhance learning by having students create a class wiki using TWiki, reviewed here, to discuss oil spills and clean-up options, to discuss the questions and answers. Learn more about wikis at the TeachersFirst's Wiki Walk-Through.

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Alaska Oil Spill Lesson Bank - PWSRCAC

Grades
K to 12
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Prince William Sound Regional Citizen's Advisory Council provides a free curriculum that is geared toward teaching about oil and oil spills. While this curriculum is about Alaska's...more
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Prince William Sound Regional Citizen's Advisory Council provides a free curriculum that is geared toward teaching about oil and oil spills. While this curriculum is about Alaska's Exxon Valdez oil spill, the information would be very helpful in teaching about other oil spills in recent news. It would be a great place to help develop lessons where students compare and contrast two spills, their magnitude and their effects on the environment. Scroll to the bottom of the page to locate the lessons under Exxon Valdez Spill.

tag(s): disasters (37), environment (221), oil (25), oil spill (14)

In the Classroom

Use the whole curriculum in environmental science classes or pick and choose pieces that you want to incorporate into your curriculum. Have students research and understand about oil spills in general using this tool, and then have students enhance their learning by comparing and contrasting the Exxon spill to the BP spill in 2010. Have students create Venn Diagrams using a tool such as Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram, reviewed here, to compare these two spills or other oil spills.

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Lesson Plan: Oil Spill Solutions - TryEngineering.org

Grades
8 to 12
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This classroom simulation of an oil spill encourages students to think about how engineers work to find fast but effective solutions to oil spills. There are PDF student handouts. ...more
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This classroom simulation of an oil spill encourages students to think about how engineers work to find fast but effective solutions to oil spills. There are PDF student handouts.

tag(s): environment (221), oil (25), oil spill (14)

In the Classroom

Introduce the concept by talking about current events such as the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Provide students with the student worksheets. Have the students work through the laboratory, and debrief by having students discuss their answers to questions. Have students relate their solutions to attempts to clean up real life oil spills. Enhance learning by having students create a class wiki using TWiki, reviewed here, to discuss oil spills and clean-up options. Not comfortable with wikis? Have no wiki worries - check out the TeachersFirst's Wiki Walk-Through.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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How Deep Were the Impacts of the BP Oil Disaster - Natural Resources Defense Council

Grades
7 to 12
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Go below the surface of the ocean to identify and understand the problem of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Use this resource to bring home the ...more
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Go below the surface of the ocean to identify and understand the problem of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Use this resource to bring home the fact that only a small amount of oil stays on the surface. Be sure to scroll up and down in the image as there is a lot of information there. Find additional fact sheets, news accounts, and footage of the oil spill disaster and its effects at the bottom of the page.

tag(s): mexico (30), oil (25), oil spill (14)

In the Classroom

Have students view the image to obtain basic information. Share the site on your projector or interactive whiteboard. In groups of four, have pairs read and discuss the poster together. Next have the pairs in the group share information learned from the site with the other pair in their group and discuss important points learned. Conduct additional research into effects of oil and the food chain(s) that are being affected. Determine the different types of populations of people affected as well by the disaster and write editorial letters of their viewpoint. Create a conventional or multimedia project that showcases students being these animals or people. Create a Voki, reviewed here, to share your information. Student groups can research additional information about specific organisms or problems to report back to the class.

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Tracking the Oil Spill in the Gulf - NY Times

Grades
6 to 12
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Follow the footprint of the Gulf Oil Spill 2010 in this interactive map. Use this information to compare the impact of this spill to others past and present. The site ...more
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Follow the footprint of the Gulf Oil Spill 2010 in this interactive map. Use this information to compare the impact of this spill to others past and present. The site provides details about mapping the spill, as well as the geographic range the spill has affected.

tag(s): disasters (37), oil (25), oil spill (14)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a springboard for discussions about the environmental impact of oil spills and, in a broader sense, of human activity in general. Use the map on the interactive whiteboard or projector to show students the physical location of the spill, as well as where the spill has had an immediate impact.

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Oil Spill Lesson Plans and Resources - NOAA

Grades
3 to 12
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Learn about the impact of oil spills. Use these lessons and information to compare the impact of spills past and present. The site provides details about cleaning up oil spills, ...more
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Learn about the impact of oil spills. Use these lessons and information to compare the impact of spills past and present. The site provides details about cleaning up oil spills, as well as the science of oil dispersal, how to clean animals, and more.

tag(s): disasters (37), oil (25), oil spill (14)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the free lesson plans and classroom activities on this site! Be sure to save this site as a favorite to allow for easy retrieval later on. Students can select different aspects of oil spill cleanup and mitigation and play the role of experts in a mock blog post playing their role. Have students continue their role play by commenting on each other's posts.

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Prince William Sound: Detecting Changes 25 Years After the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill - NOAA

Grades
6 to 12
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Learn about the lasting impact of oil spills and how the environment does and does not recover, specifically from the Exxon-Valdez spill of 1989. Use this information to compare the...more
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Learn about the lasting impact of oil spills and how the environment does and does not recover, specifically from the Exxon-Valdez spill of 1989. Use this information to compare the impact of this spill to others past and present. The site provides details about the impact the spill had on the sound and wildlife, as well as how recovery has progressed over the years.

tag(s): disasters (37), environment (221), oil (25), oil spill (14)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a springboard for discussions about the environmental impact of oil spills and, in a broader sense, of human activity in general. Share some of the text portions on a projectir or divide up the site among different student groups. Have student groups explore various aspects of oil spills and report to the class, perhaps sharing visuals from this site on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Have students create a multimedia presentation using PowerPoint Online, reviewed here. This tool allows for to narrating and adding text to a picture. Challenge students to find a photo of the oil spill, and then narrate the photo as if it were a news report. To find Creative Commons images for student projects (with credit, of course), try Vecteezy, reviewed here.

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Wetlands & Shorelines - Missouri Botanical Garden

Grades
4 to 6
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The Missouri Botanical Garden has created a very nice elementary site about biomes and freshwater / saltwater environments. Because of the site design, you'll need to click the specific...more
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The Missouri Botanical Garden has created a very nice elementary site about biomes and freshwater / saltwater environments. Because of the site design, you'll need to click the specific area in which you are interested.

tag(s): biomes (113), oil (25), oil spill (14)

In the Classroom

Use the "shorelines" section of this site to understand the importance of ecosystems in coastal areas such the the Gulf of Mexico. This would be great background for a lesson on oil spills, specifically Exxon-Valdez or the BP spill of 2010. Use this site as a learning center or station, among other stations with more information about the specific spills being studied.

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