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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

PBL Camp: Grades 6-8 (Week 1)

PBL Camp: Grades 6-8 (Week 1)

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How will you make the oil spill relevant to your students? This is our brainstorming thread for the middle school community. Any and all ideas and thoughts welcome!

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Peg Nicholson's picture
Peg Nicholson
Family & Consumer Sciences teacher, Missouri

My foods classes already explore the impact of food choices on the environment, with oil usage being a big factor. Foods and Family Resource Management classes could research how families in the Gulf are coping and speculate on how their own families could cope with similar circumstances. I would use videos of the spill and survivors to inspoire the studen ts and show them the magnitude of the dissster.

kathy obrien's picture

We looked at how important wetlands are to stopping pollution in the ocean by taking a baking pan and putting water in it. Pour black ground pepper and show how without any obstacles the pepper floats freely. In another pan, put tree branches, dirt, plants etc. and water. Now pour water and pepper and tilt the pan to show there is very little pepper that gets through the imitation wetland. Also you can take store bought feathers and dip them in cooking oil. Use Dawn detergent to try to wash the oil. Ask students what the problems are that might occur. like harming the animal during cleaning. not rinsing the soap off enough to cause burns. stepping on plant life to get the animal etc

Beth Gentrup's picture
Beth Gentrup
7th & 8th Grade High Achiever Teacher from Norfolk, Nebraska

I would have my students look for images, facts & figures on the internet and build a 2 student newscast from what they find. Each pair would then present there view of the oil spill. From this information, all the students would answer the question "How do this oil spill affect you as a student in Norfolk, Nebraska?" I would have them use either wallwisher or a wiki to answer the question. I feel they would generate ideas from this to move on in thier learning.

Meri Kahle's picture
Meri Kahle
7th & 8th Interrelated Sped (Language Arts) from rural Kansas

Our school is located in a relatively rural part of Kansas. Our district also borders an army installation. Due to this close proximity, our school has formed a partnership with a specific brigade of soldiers from all over the country, who interact weekly with students in our building, some of whom are currently deployed overseas.

In addition, after Hurricane Katrina, we had several displaced families relocate with family in our area. With these experiences, I feel that our students may have a better understanding to begin with. I would definitely bring in additional reference materials, across the curriculum, to add the current and relevant facts to background knowledge. I think that the parallel between our area's dependence on agriculture and the Gulf's dependence on the fishing industry would also be beneficial. My students may not understand the intracacies of the Gulf ecosystems, but they do understand the importance of nature being aligned to bring in seasonal crops. Too much or too little rain, high winds, hail, or high heat can all effect crops in our area, thus the economy. The comparison could be made to the fishing industry in the Gulf.

deb speese's picture
deb speese
Challenge Center Teacher - Gwynedd Mercy Academy

Great ideas.  I usually start off the year in Grade 6 Science with the Scientific Method.  Any thoughts on how my students could apply the process using the oil spill as the foundation? 

deb speese's picture
deb speese
Challenge Center Teacher - Gwynedd Mercy Academy

Great ideas. I usually start off the year in Science with the Scientific Method. Any ideas on how my students could apply the process using the oil spill as a foundation?

Melinda Turner's picture
Melinda Turner
Sixth Grade Mathematics Teacher from Tazewell, TN

Deb, you could have a series forum with your students so they could develop questions, hypothesize, and do their research regarding the topic. Maybe you could begin with a couple of video clips showing several viewpoints and/or solutions/reprecussions to the spill. Then, you could set up learning centers or use virtual manipulatives/research for the students to experiment their hypothesis. Then you could end with a series of forum for student reflection. (I've taught 7th grade Science and they loved experimentalization.)

Tracy Butcher's picture
Tracy Butcher
Eighth Grade Teacher

I think to make the oil spill relevant to my students it would need to include many things. I will have many of the same students this year that I had last year and before school got out they were talking about it anytime we had class meetings and/or they used newspapers for silent reading time. They are already interested in it, so making it relevant to them should be fairly easy. I think creating a project with math, science and language arts would be a great start to the year. Include math that measures the oil, the cost etc, science for ecology, how is this impacting our environment and language arts, writing news articles etc with the information they find. Maybe even include technology by having the students create newscasts (podcast style) explaining what is happening.

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