Simulating an Oil Spill to Understand Environmental Impact

Contributor
NSTA Press Picture Perfect Science Teaching Channel
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Instructor Guide/Manual , Professional Development
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

This 8 minute instructional video provides a model for teachers to follow of a week long investigation of oil spills and the environmental impact they have on shorelines and creatures. Students take on the task of cleaning up a simulated oil spill. Educator uses the 5E curriculum model to engage students with fiction and non-fiction texts before exploring methods that simulate an oil spill and its cleanup. Video demonstrates the key portions of the activity and models appropriate teacher questioning and interactions with the students.

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • Upper Elementary
  • Grade 5
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

5-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The use of a variety of media including fictional and non-fictional texts, video from actual oil spills, and the modeling of an oil spill and its subsequent clean up provide ample opportunity for students to obtain information about how humans can both damage and cleanup Earth's resources. By using books, video, etc. that portray different tools being used, guide students to recognize that no one tool can adequately perform all the necessary cleanup tasks and that combining multiple methods in their own cleanup efforts will be necessary. Students can obtain information that will inform their oil spill solutions through both media and hands-on simulated material investigations as seen in the video. (Note the use of video is suggested as this resource does not provided links or suggest any particular oil spill visual media outside of the books.)

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Providing students time to generate and complete data tables and observation notes of how oil behaves in a model ecosystem (in this case water and rocky shoreline) and how different tools mitigate or cleanup oil spills is critical to providing students opportunity to reflect on solutions for cleanup and which solutions may work best. Taking time to generate and analyze data tables recording cleanup observations will offer students opportunities to "compare and contrast data collected by different groups in order to discuss similarities and differences in their findings" and analyze data to the design of a proposed object, tool, or process (in this case the cleanup materials and cleanup methods effectiveness.) Deliberate student and class-wide analysis will ultimately lead to "use of data to evaluate and refine (cleanup) design solutions." The resource as it stands does not provide opportunity for students to "analyze bar graphs, pictograms (and other analytical visuals) to reveal patterns that indicate relationships," nor does it "analyze and interpret data to make sense of phenomena, using logical reasoning, mathematics, and/or computation."

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Using a combination of the information regarding oil spills in the texts highlighted and the data collected from student investigations, students are more likely to make the connection that scientists rely on research previously documented by other scientists and their own records and observations to make accurate predictions and to communicate information that is more relevant and beneficial to society as a whole.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Using the suggested texts by the teacher at the beginning lends itself to the conversation and exploration of why humans drill for oil and how improper drilling techniques or accidents can lead to major effects on the land and ocean. The student descriptions of how society can protect Earth's resources and environments is best addressed toward the tail end of the lesson after students have had experience with oil cleanup and beach/animal protection and cleanup.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Teachers must bring explicit attention to the human component of a system including the rocky shoreline (geosphere), the ocean (hydrosphere), and life making the disaster location their home (biosphere). My associated human activity with the biosphere teachers can illustrate these system components and their interactions with one another.

This resource was not designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
By students observing patterns of observable effectiveness in their cleanup materials students will be able to draw accurate conclusions about which tools work best and under what conditions. Discrepancies in effectiveness communicated by different groups will lead to more robust conversation about techniques utilized and a better understanding of how to best use each tool for the intended oil spill cleanup solution.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: While this video was not explicitly designed to address the NGSS dimensions, the activities outlined are consistent with the goals behind NGSS and effectively address scientific and engineering practices, human impact on our Earth's systems, and the structure and function of different materials from an engineering perspective while integrating ELA Common Core standards. Better still, the video outlines how the use of a 5E model lesson sequence carries students through the construction of understanding and capacity to communicate their newly found knowledge effectively to their audience.

  • Instructional Supports: While the video shares a number of thoughtful teaching practices and techniques to be used throughout the multi-day curriculum, there are no pre-made paperwork or explicit directions that aid in the facilitation of the activity. Fortunately for NSTA members, the "Picture Perfect" book chapter, "Oil Spill!" this lesson is modeled off of contains "superior" level instructional supports and can be found for free at the NSTA Learning Center at http://learningcenter.nsta.org/product_detail.aspx?id=10.2505/9781935155164.13 - The entire book can also be purchased on the NSTA Press website for NSTA and non-NSTA members.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: While verbal check-ins and the use of worksheets to record student thinking is modeled in the video there are no tangible resources associated with the video to help the educator monitor a student's progress. Fortunately for NSTA members, the "Picture Perfect" book chapter, "Oil Spill!" this lesson is modeled off of contains "superior" level student progress monitoring tools. It can be found for free at the NSTA Learning Center at http://learningcenter.nsta.org/product_detail.aspx?id=10.2505/9781935155164.13 - The entire book can also be purchased on the NSTA Press website for NSTA and non-NSTA members.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: - none -