Oil Spill Activity for Youth
Florida Sea Grant Extension Agent
Santa Rosa County
Educators in Santa Rosa County have created an activity for youth to teach them about the oil spill. By using vegetable oil mixed with cocoa, students can see how oil floats on water. Students then experiment with different absorbent materials to determine which works best to remove the oil from the water. A variety of materials can be tried, including those discussed recently in the media such as pet or human hair, hay, and mulch. Using dishwashing detergent demonstrates how dispersants work and expands the discussion to concerns mixing the oil within the water column might raise. As a team, students work to determine the best solution for their experimental spill.
A water filled container with a laminated map serves as the Gulf of Mexico for the oil spill activity. Photo Credits: Chris Verlinde
Participants may also role play different stakeholders in the process. By having students represent the company responsible for the spill, the environmental protection agencies, homeowners, fishermen, clean-up crews, volunteers, and even media members, students can learn that the many organizations involved may complicate the process. This can lead into discussions on emergency command systems and how communities respond to disasters.
The activity is available at http://lyra.ifas.ufl.edu/panhandleoutdoors/OilSpillActivities.pdf or can be obtained by contacting Chris Verlinde at email@example.com