Friday, May 14, 2010

How is an Oil Spill cleaned up?

With the recent oil spill in the Gulf, Big Kid Scientists may be interested in understanding clean-up methods.  This exploration is adapted from "Oil Spill!" found in Picture Perfect Science Lessons by Karen Rohrich Asnberry and Emily Morgan.


Ages: Big Kid Scientists

Science Book Connection: Oil Spill! by Melvin Burger

Materials to Set up the Exploration:  Mom Scientists first need to prepare the oil for this exploration by mixing 1 tsp of powdered black tempera paint and 4 cups of vegetable oil.  Simulated oil is being used because black oil would be harmful to kid scientists.

  • Newspaper to cover work surface
  • 3 disposable pie plates
  • 3 rocks
  • 3 leafy carrot tops, celery tops, or weeds
  • Pipe cleaner
Procedure to Set up the Exploration:
  • Cover your work area with newspaper
  • Set up the oil spill models
    • Put a rock in each pie plate to represent the shore line
    • Put a leafy plant in each pie plate to represent aquatic plants
    • Model animals out of the pipe cleaners to represent aquatic animals, place one in each pie plate
  • Fill each pie plate about half full of water
  • Add 1/8 cup of simulated oil to each pan
Materials for the Exploration: plastic cups, plastic spoons & forks, yarn, nylon stocking, cotton balls, coffee filter, sand, paper towel...other materials that may aid in oil clean up

Procedure for the Exploration:
  • Your job is to find out which material will remove the most oil from the oil spill model
  • Select a material to test in each oil spill model
  • Determine a strategy for comparing removed oil from each system
  • Attempt to remove oil from each system
  • What was the effect of the oil spill on the model environment?
  • Which material was best for cleaning up the oil spill?  What is your evidence?

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