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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

PBL Camp: PreK-Grade 2 (Week 1)

PBL Camp: PreK-Grade 2 (Week 1)

Related Tags: Project-Based Learning
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How will you make the oil spill relevant to your early elementary students? This is our brainstorming thread -- any and all ideas and thoughts welcome!

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Amanda Walma's picture

Since these kids are so young...maybe working on something like oil and water science experiments...or just playing with oil would be helpful so that they could understand the qualities that oil has...maybe pouring oil into a wading pool and having them try to scoop all the oil out...asking them to figure out how to make the pool free of oil. You could even go as far as putting animals and other items in the water and see if they could clean those items. I would think a project like this could really help them understand. For the oil I would try a cooking oil. Not sure that would work as well as crude but I think you would get the idea.

Donna Milner's picture
Donna Milner
Elementary Media Specialist

Amanda, what if you added food coloring or chocolate to the oil to make it look more like the crude oil? Living near Cumberland Island National Seashore I hope to do something with saving the sea turtle eggs. I've never done PBL with this age group so I am eager to hear the suggestions. Our culminating activity will probably include either a visit to the Jekyll Island Sea Turtle Institute or one of their scientists visiting us with a guest sea turtle.

Susan Hoffsis's picture

Amanda,   I like the idea of doing experiements with oil. A simple experiment of pouring oil into a container of water will show the children that oil floats on top of the water. Also, it might be easier to use an aquarium instead of a wading pool. That would be more manageable for my classroom.   Brenda,

I understand your dilemma. I live in New Mexico, far from the ocean but close to the Rio Grande, City Aquarium. I am going incorporate these two resources.

Susan Hoffsis's picture

I've been thinking of focusing on the sea turtles with my class and how they have been affected by the oil spill. Some of my ideas are: have the students raise money to adopt a sea turtle from the National Save A Sea Turtle Foundation, have a turtle as a class pet, learn the external and internal parts of the turtle. There are many articles about what scientists are doing to save the turtles in the gulf right now and the class can follow along with these strategies.

Elyse Burnett's picture

I was thinking of a child friendly oil spill video. Then an activity where they each get a stuffed animal in which they try to swim in a oil filled lake. After they are covered with oil the kids get to wash the animals in dishwashing liquid. Then they write a thank you for saving animals letter to the brand of dishwashing liquid we used.

Donna Milner's picture
Donna Milner
Elementary Media Specialist

I was just watching the Worm video that was in the resources. Could you possibly create a small salt water aquarium to house shrimp and let the students learn how the small animals of the Gulf live and how they are being affected by the spill? Just thinking out loud. Don't know if this is doable.

Susan Hoffsis's picture

Does this give anyone any ideas?

Penguin sweaters, also known as penguin jumpers,[1] are sweaters which are knitted for penguins that are caught in oil slicks.[2] When an oil spill affects penguins they are dressed in knitted sweaters to stop them preening their feathers and to keep them warm, since the spilled oil destroys their natural oils. This prevents them from poisoning themselves by ingesting the oil.[3] The sweaters are removed and discarded as soon as the penguins can be washed. The original project is completed, but the knitting pattern is still available on-line.[4]

A similar penguin wetsuit has been made for a penguin who lost his feathers.[5] [6]

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