Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Oil Spill STEM Challenge

There's no such thing as a "good" oil spill.

Having just watched the movie Deepwater Horizon myself, it's a powerful and messy environmental situation, that can create great harm to wildlife and humans both.

Hence the great environmental concerns over the Dakota Access Pipeline (as well as all of the other political & environmental concerns from this week).

Deepwater Horizon and the nightly news & controversy about #NODAPL aren't the subjects of 3rd grade classrooms. But a STEM challenge on the subject of oils spills is quite informative and can lead to some amazing insight for kids.

That's just what our 3rd grade team did. With a little help from online resources such as this Earth Day Oil Spill activity from, third graders got the opportunity to simulate a captured oil spill, then run feathers through them to see what birds face when they encounter an oily pollution problem. Can they come up with a solution to help clean the birds up?

After hands-on experimentation, our students got their creativity spinning & began brainstorming stories where sea creatures got ensnared in a slippery situation of their own, covered in oil. After using the writing process to plan their individual stories and write their drafts, students then made it into a "read-to-me" eBook that they illustrated, narrated, and recorded on the iPad app My Story.

The multiple levels and learning styles used in this whole activity, from STEM-start to digital-finish, really brought home the meaning of how humans can both negatively AND positively affect the environment. It is through activities like these, especially in a community that borders the Chesapeake Bay and has open waters nearby, that young stewards of the environment are born.

Oil spill covered bird from; My Story logo from; all other images created on my iPad using the My Story app.

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