We are concluding our Oil Spill Engineering and geology unit. After learning about erosion, deposition, and weathering, students explored how an oil spill affects an ecosystem and the tools and methods needed to clean it. Students worked in groups to experiment with a variety of materials to clean a spill. Later they worked with a budget to clean up an oil Spill in a lab setting. Students had the opportunity to improve their designs and reflect on the experience. Our students also were fortunate to enjoy a presentation by PGE environmental specialist, Corey Carlson-Ham.
For the past several weeks, our 4th and 5th graders have been working on a project about oil spill cleanup. The first phase of the project involved students conducting pH samples to determine the sources of pollution in the fictional town named Greentown. After gathering and analyzing data, students developed presentations for the Greentown city council to identify the sources of the pollution and recommendations for further action.
The next part of the project has been for students to use the engineering design process to design, implement, evaluate, and improve a process for cleaning an oil spill so that the oil has the least impact on the surrounding ecosystem. After some study about ecosystems, students tested different tools to use for oil spill clean up. Their observations were shared between both classes, and using that information, each student group developed a plan for oil removal in a simulated river. Students were given a budget of $20 million dollars in the planning process. Student groups carried out their plans and then tested their clean up process effectiveness using special tools. From this, students earned an overall score for effectiveness and being cost efficient.
The next step will be to analyze today’s work and develop a plan to improve upon their first design. A big thank you to all parents who donated goggles, volunteered to prepare materials this fall, and help out with the activity. This would not have happened without your help.
Our 4th and 5th graders are beginning a unit focusing on the study of geology that will lead into a Engineering is Elementary unit on Oil Spill Cleanup. After learning about geology basics, students participated in a group activity which focused discussion and listing ideas around the following questions:
- What causes change (nonliving) on the Earth’s landscape?
- How do these changes affect people?
- What are some solution to these problems to help people?
Stay tuned. More pics and info will be forthcoming about this unit.